Georgia students fight segregated proms

(Credit: WSAV) Students from Wilcox County High School who are fighting to have an integrated prom. (Screengrab from a video by WSAV)

This seems hard to believe in 2013, but students at Wilcox County High School in Georgia have long held segregated proms — one for blacks and one for whites. This year a group of black and white teens who have been friends for years are fighting for a fully integrated prom. But it hasn’t been easy.

Channel WSAV 3 reports that a group of girls in Rochelle, Ga., who have been buddies since fourth grade and do just about everything together are leading the effort. One of the girls, Stephanie Sinnot, was quoted as saying:

We are all friends. That’s just kind of not right that we can’t go to prom together.

Traditionally students at Wilcox County High School have held two segregated proms, though they are not funded by or held at the school. This year, when the teens asked the Board of Education for one fully integrated prom, the board applauded the idea, but said it couldn’t stop segregated proms because the events are sponsored by parents and students.

The teenagers said that nobody but a white student would dare attend the white-only prom, and noted that last year, a biracial student showed up and was turned away — by police officers.

Prom is not the only segregated event at the school, WSAV reported. There are also segregated dances at Homecoming. This year for the first time at the school an integrated Homecoming court was named, but Quanesha Wallace, a black teen who is one of the students pushing for a fully integrated prom, said she was voted queen of the court but was not invited to the white dance.

The friends say they are running into resistance to change; posters they have put up for a fully integrated prom have been ripped down.

“We’re embarrassed,” several of the girls said at the same time in this video about the prom

They have set up a Facebook page and plan to hold their integrated prom ion April 27, according to Channel 13WMAZ.

The Facebook page describes their effort this way:

We live in rural south Georgia, where not too many things change. Well, as a group of adamant high school seniors, we want to make a difference in our community. For the first time in the history of our county, we plan to have an integrated prom.

Here’s a video about the girls and their effort from WSAV.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.

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Valerie Strauss · April 5, 2013