History of the San Antonio Queen of Soul, Inc.
We can thank Mr. Tom E. Turner, President of Turner Enterprises, and his son, Fred for organizing the Queen of Soul. Mr. Tom E. Turner felt that all people should have full representation and identify themselves without any issues. He noted that this was not the case for his neighboring African American community. This was evident especially during one of the most fun-filled times of year in -April during Fiesta week. He decided that since he had the means he would make this possible. Mr. Turner recruited Mrs. Gracie Griffin Poe, a former Miss St. Phillips College, to produce and direct the first pageant. Mrs. Griffin Poe made inroads for diversity when she helped create the Queen of Soul pageant in 1968 during the waning days of segregation.
Mrs. Poe had pageant experience at both St. Phillips College and The Ella Austin Community Center. The inaugural pageant was headquartered in the Penthouse room of Atkins Advertising. This space provided a plush and luxurious Hollywood atmosphere. Mrs. Poe enlisted, Attorney Earl Hill and Mrs. Jefri Willis to form the first Executive Board of Directors. Each year more and more interested community leaders and organizations became a part of the support and leadership cadre. One of the most supportive members was radio station KAPE.
The very first young lady crowned as the Queen of Soul was Miss Libby Barksdale, who served from 1969-1971. The late Libby Barksdale was the first Queen of Soul to ride in the Battle of Flowers parade. She was accompanied by a Multi-Grammy award-winning singer, the late great Lou Rawls, and also by Jim Hill of the San Diego Charger in Flambeau Parade.
Due to the tenacity and leadership of Mr. Turner and Mrs. Poe, The San Antonio Queen of Soul, Inc., with the support of the community has flourished. The organization became an official member of the San Antonio Fiesta Commission in 1974.
Since its inception, the San Antonio Queen of Soul, Inc. has allowed young women from San Antonio and the surrounding area to receive scholarships to further their educational goals.
On the 17th of March 2018, The San Antonio Queen of Soul, Inc., celebrated its 50th Anniversary. The “Golden Jubilee”, reunited many of the former Queens, Past Presidents, Board members, and community supporters in a night of celebration.