And that to me was such an honor but also something that I had no idea the weight, and that there might be some bad consequences. To have white people who wanted to kill me because I was black and to have death threats against my family because they felt that I was tarnishing the Miss America crown because I was a black person. So it was an incredible time. Despite their encouragement,  Williams was not interested in participating in the pageant. She later changed her mind when she realized that she could earn scholarship money. She later stated that "there were a lot of people that did not want me to be representative of the United States and Miss America.
More nude photos of Vanessa Williams - UPI Archives
Miss Williams said her decision to resign was precipitated by the fear that the second set of pictures would be made public and 'people wouldn't forgive me for a second mistake,' The New York Times reported. Those pictures, taken by photographer Greg Whitman, were scheduled for publication in the January edition of Penthouse, said Sy Presten, a spokesman for the magazine's owner, Bob Guccione. In addition, Presten said previously unreleased photographs of Miss Williams taken by Tom Chiapel, who photographed the first nude session, will be published in November. Chiapel's first session had photographs of Miss Williams posing nude with another woman and were published in the September issue of the magazine. The pictures forced Miss Williams' resignation. He declined to comment where and when Whitman took the photos.
She initially gained recognition as the first African American woman to win the title of Miss America during the Miss America pageant on September 17, Seven weeks before the end of her reign, however, a Scandal arose when Penthouse magazine bought and published unauthorized nude photographs of Williams. She relinquished her title and was succeeded by the first runner-up, Miss New Jersey , Suzette Charles. Williams rebounded by launching a career as an entertainer, earning multiple Grammy and Emmy nominations and a Tony Award nomination.