Institutionalized segregation was banned decades ago, but it’s apparently still practiced in central Georgia – at least during prom season.
Black students and white students at Wilcox County High School have been attending separate prom and homecoming dances for decades in spite of federal laws banning racial segregation.
Now, a group of seniors is taking a stand against the practice by organizing the first integrated prom that the Macon, Georgia public school has ever seen.
‘We live in rural south Georgia, where not too many things change,’ senior Mareshia Rucker says. ‘Well, as a group of adamant high school seniors, we want to make a difference in our community.’
‘Change has to start somewhere,’ she adds. ‘So why not with us?’
Rucker and a group of students have been planning the integrated prom, which is scheduled for April 27, since January. So far 50 students of the nearly 400 who attend Wilcox have bought tickets.
Rucker and her friends are holding fundraisers every weekend until the event to help pay for it, she says. They recently sold home-made ‘chicken plates’ to raise money.
The organizers of the prom are feeling hopeful that the school is ready to tear down the prejudices that have separated their school dances for so many years.
In fact, this is the first year that Wilcox County High School has allowed for the election of a biracial homecoming king and queen.
Quanesha Wallace, one of the students organizing the integrated prom, was elected queen.
‘I felt like there had to be a change because for me to be a black person and the king to be a white person, I felt like, you know, why can’t we come together?,’ Wallace told WGXA.
In the past, two separate ‘kings’ and ‘queens’ were chosen based on skin color. But white students and black students were still forced to attend two separate homecoming dances.
In spite of how it might sound, the school has not broken any civil rights laws because it doesn’t actually sponsor the segregated prom dances – or any prom dance, for that matter. Instead, parents and students are responsible for organizing and funding the private events.
Historically, organizers of the ‘white’ prom have hired security personnel to make sure no dark-skinned kids get into their events.
Just last year, a biracial student was escorted out of the ‘white’ prom by police, according to CNN.
So there are clearly many people in the central Georgia town who aren’t supportive of a prom that’s open to everyone.
Student Keela Bloodworth hung posters advertising the event at school and said people have been ripping them down.
Now, the students are facing another obstacle: funding.
The school system told Rucker it will not sponsor the event because it doesn’t have the finances, Rucker said.
‘We have not reached the financial goal that we need to sponsor this prom,’ Rucker wrote on Facebook Wednesday as she asked for donations. ‘With prom right around the corner, we are having to buckle down, work even harder, and give this the very best that we’ve got.’
In the same post, Rucker made a heartfelt appeal for the end of segregation in her county.
‘We believe that no matter what you look like, we are all entitled to the same opportunities in life,’ she wrote. ‘Everyone has blue blood that runs through their veins, and when we bleed out, it turns red. There aren’t any stipulations, or strings attached.’
‘This is what we want everyone to see,’ she continued. ‘We need people to open their eyes, and obtain more than just a view.’