Kalyn Chapman James: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

The first black woman to win the Miss Alabama pageant has sparked controversy on social media after calling the Dallas shooter who killed five police officers a “martyr” in a tearful Facebook video.

Kalyn Chapman James, who won the Miss Alabama competition in 1993, posted the two-minute rant after leaving church on Sunday. You can watch the video above.

“I don’t feel sad for the officers who lost their lives and I know that’s not really my heart,” the 45-year-old says in the video. “I value human life. And I want to feel sad for them, but I can’t help but feeling like the shooter was a martyr.”

The gunman, Micah Xavier Johnson, who has not been connected to any groups and said he acted alone, opened fire at the end of a march against police brutality in downtown Dallas last Thursday, killing five officers. He also wounded nine other officers and two civilians. Johnson told police he was upset about recent police killings, according to Police Chief David Brown.

The Dallas shooting came just days after two controversial police shootings. Alton Sterling was killed by officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile was killed by an officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, near Saint Paul. Parts of both incidents were caught on video, bringing national attention to them. The investigations into those shootings are still ongoing.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. James Says She Doesn’t Condone Violence, But ‘I’m Sick of This’

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Kalyn Chapman James. (Facebook)

Kalyn Chapman James said in her Facebook video she “prayed a lot” about what has happened in the past week during church on Sunday. She said she can’t stop “replaying the image of these men being killed in my mind.”

James said her feelings about the Dallas shooter are causing her guilt.

“I know it’s not the right way to feel, because nobody deserves to lose their lives, and I know that those police officers had families and people who loved them,” she said in the video. “And that they didn’t deserve to die. But I’m so torn up in my heart about seeing these men, these black men being gunned down in our community that I can’t help but feel like, I wasn’t surprised by what the shooter did to those cops and I think a lot of us feel the same way.”

She said she knows it is “not right,” and she definitely doesn’t “condone violence,” but she said she is “sick of this.”

James said, “I’m sad, and I’m hurt, and maybe some of you have some insight or some comfort or words to offer, because I know the people who know me definitely know my heart, I definitely do not condone violence against innocent people, but I’m sick of this. I’m sick of this and something has to be done. Period. It’s a lot to deal with and I know I’m not the only one feeling this.”


2. She Apologized, But Said She Feels She Did the Right Thing by Speaking Up About Her Feelings

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(Twitter)

James has apologized in interviews with local media in Alabama. But she told AL.com in a statementshe doesn’t regret posting the video:

My heart and my mind were conflicted because these are difficult and very emotional times for so many people. I went to church to address my feelings and deal with them from a perspective of forgiveness and love. Especially forgiving myself for feeling that way. I regret that any people lost their lives this week and I am saddened by all of the shootings that occurred. But, this is not about me. When reading about the killings of those black men, I was mortified by some of the comments about them. Many People were not conflicted at all about those deaths. Some were okay with this. These are raw wounds that are fresh and, while I apologize if I offended anyone, I cannot help the way I feel as I continue to process these events and deal with the flood of emotions that come from witnessing such atrocities – both against citizens and officers of the law. The fact that my opinion was considered newsworthy makes me feel like speaking up was exactly what I should do, because I can voice what so many people are feeling and dealing with and they should know they are not alone. I reiterate that I do not condone violence or killing at all. I offer my deepest condolences to all the families who lost their loved ones this week, including the officers in Dallas.

She also spoke with Inside Edition.

“I do wish that I hadn’t used it in my video. I was very emotional,” James said. “I only used the word in the context of a person who feels like they’re dying for something they believe in. What he did was wrong…He is not a hero to me. I do not condone what he did.”

You can watch her full interview Tuesday on Inside Edition.

James told WPMI-TV, “What Micah did was wrong period. Maybe martyr wasn’t the right word but it was what came to mind at that time.”

She also told the news station the wife of one of the slain officers reached out to her after the video went viral.

“She said that she watched my video and she wasn’t mad, she understood what I was saying and that she forgave me,” James told WPMI.

But she has also received threats.

“People telling me to watch my back, people telling me to be careful, people telling me the police should never protect me,” she told the news station.

James told Inside Edition she has been called a “racist” and “terrorist” by some.

“I’m not a racist. I feel like people regardless of their race, they should feel safe in the streets,” James said.


3. She Finished in the Top 10 of the Miss America Pageant in 1994 After Winning Miss Alabama

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Kalyn James in 2015. (Getty)

Chapman James, a native of Mobile, won the Miss Alabama pageant in 1993 and finished in the top 10 of the Miss America competition in 1994. Her talent was modern dance.

She awards the Kalyn Chapman James Scholarship to the Miss Alabama contest’s highest-scoring African American contestant each year.

The Miss Alabama pageant issued a statement to AL.com about James’ video.

“Kalyn Chapman James was Miss Alabama 23 years ago in 1993. The opinions she expressed are her own, and do not represent the viewpoint of the current Miss Alabama or the Miss Alabama Organization,” the statement said. “We have nothing but the utmost respect and appreciation for the men and women of law enforcement, and would never condone violence of any kind.”


4. She Works as a TV Host in Miami & Teaches Dance & Fitness Classes

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(Getty)

James, who is married and has two daughters, now lives in Miami, Florida, where she is a TV host and teaches dance and fitness classes, according to her Linkedin profile.

She graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1997 with a degree in psychology.

James has hosted Art Loft, a WPBT show that focuses on arts in the Miami area, since 2013.

“The arts gave me the confidence to push past boundaries that existed in my small hometown in southern Alabama. They opened the doors that would change my life forever and gave me a voice to reach thousands of students about the importance of education during my tenure as Miss Alabama,” she says on the show’s website. “I’ve participated in the growth of Miami’s art scene and I am looking forward to sharing all that this wonderful city has to offer in the arts and culture. Wonderful things are happening here and I am proud to be a small part of making sure our community knows all about it!”

She was suspended from her position with the station:

A decision on her future with WPBT has not yet been made.


5. A Surgeon Who Treated Officers in Dallas Also Spoke Out About His Struggle With His Feelings About the Shootings

A Dallas trauma surgeon who treated wounded officers during Thursday’s shooting spoke out Monday during a press conference about his struggle with his feelings about police.

“It’s much more complicated for me personally because it’s not just about that one night, it’s about the racial undertones that impact all of this,” Williams, who is also an Air Force veteran, said of the emotional impact of the shooting. “So it began long before those cops came through the door that evening. I don’t know what I’m going to do about that, but right now it is certainly a struggle.”

Williams said he stands with law enforcement in Dallas and all around the country, but also understands the “anger and frustration” with police.

“There is this dichotomy where I am standing with law enforcement, but I also personally feel and understand that angst that comes when you cross the paths of an officer in uniform and you are fearing for your safety,” Williams said. “I’ve been there and understand that. But that does not condone disrespecting or killing police officers. It is something I am struggling with constantly.”

He said the problem is not the officers, it is the lack of open discussions about race in America.

Williams also said he was not able to save all the officers he treated and said that “weighs on my mind constantly.”

You can read more about Williams at the link below: