Georgia students are raising money to hold their high school's first-ever integrated prom. That's right — despite Wilcox County High School integrating 30 years ago, the school took that as a sign to start segregating prom, having a black prom and a white prom every year since.
Even though it wasn't that long ago that everything from schools to drinking fountains were segregated, it's still shocking that high school administrators have yet to learn that race should never be used as a means of separating people. But this prom could lead the way for more schools with similar policies to take action, too.
"We're embarrassed, it's embarrassing, yeah it's kind of embarrassing," said one of the students involved in planning the integrated prom. In many eyes, they have no reason to be embarrassed — none of this is their fault, and they are just trying to make things equal for all.
City Councilman Wayne McGuinty, on the other hand, feels otherwise. He discussed his high school days, where the white students couldn't decide if they wanted a live band or a DJ, so they just decided to have two different proms with one at each.
In an attempt to redeem himself, he added, "I don't think there is an effort made to keep black kids out of the white prom and to keep white kids out of the black prom."
But he's wrong. Just last year, a biracial student was turned away from the white prom by police.
It's unknown whether or not this could also be the case this year, since both proms have always been privately funded by parents, rather than the school. So students this year are trying to turn the all-black prom into the integrated prom, while the white prom may still occur.
Khadija Childs, a senior who is working on the integrated prom, explained why some parents of black parents may not like the idea.
"They were like, 'Khadija, you're not living up to your race,'" she said. "I was like, 'Well, I love the white people just like I love all the blacks.'"
She added that many students get along just fine during the school year until prom comes around, although homecoming is also a segregated event.
When a black girl, Quanesha Wallace, won homecoming queen, she was not allowed to take yearbook photos with the king, who was white.
"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," said Wallace, applying the homecoming drama to the integrated prom.
So far, the project has raised over $1,000 from independent sources, but the students are finding it hard to invite people since opponents keep tearing down the flyers advertising the event.
Anyone can donate to the integrated prom project here, and hopefully it will gain enough traction to become a staple at Wilcox County High School, perhaps even eliminating the white-only prom on its way to being funded by the school.
"In some way," said student Ethan Roundtree, "it will shape the history of Wilcox County and what will happen next."