Four female students-two white and two black- from Georgia’s Wilcox County High School have petitioned their school to allow them to attend prom together. The school, who offers an “integrated” prom and “white” prom each year, responded with a resolution to allow students of all races to attend the integrated prom; however, it would not discontinue the strictly enforced “white prom.” Interestingly, neither prom is funded by or held at the school. Instead, they are organized by parent groups that the school will not “stand up to.”
The students have faced considerable opposition from their classmates as well. According to the girls, the posters they put up to advertise their event were quickly torn down. Even more, the school apparently fosters segregationist tendencies in several ways. From classrooms to lunch rooms, black and white students do not interact well, or often. Interracial friendships, and more specifically dating, lead to bullying and totally exclusion from the students’ race groups.
When asked to support the cause or simply even take a side, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal called the events a “silly publicity stunt;” the author of the article then likened him to George Wallace, and he may not be too far off base. Whether he believes it is a publicity stunt or not, he still should have lent his support for the integration of the proms in accordance with federal laws and human decency.
In a display of my own ignorance, I was shocked to hear that one- segregated proms still exist- and two- the Governor did not support their integration outright. However, I find the biggest problem with this situation to be with the parent groups organizing the separate proms. These parents have done an injustice to all of these children by furthering the segregation they dealt with. Instead of learning from the Movement that defined their teenage years, they have chosen to continue the legacy of segregation. Their kids, the more “tradition-bound” as one article states, are the unfortunate inheritors of decades old hate. This hate surely met them in their infancy and will shape their world view for years to come.
How do you think the school should have handled this? Do you think that inherited racism is a widespread problem, or that it can be isolated to the South?
I applaud the four girls- Stephanie, Mareshia, Quanesha, and Keela- for their efforts to integrate their school’s prom, and I admonish the parents and students standing in their way.
The girls have made a Facebook page to fund raise and garner support for their proposed, inclusive, April 27 prom- you can find the links to the Facebook event and original articles below.