Thursday, May 02, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #106 - Part 1

Hero Award: students integrate senior prom

Let's do a Hero Award, which is given as the occasion arises for people who just do the right thing.

This week, it's a group of four heroes: Left to right and I think I've got the names in the right order, they are Keela Bloodworth, Quanesha Wallace, Stephanie Sinnot, Mareshia Rucker. They are seniors at Wilcox County High School in southern Georgia and have been, they say, friends since the fourth grade.

And this year they advocated for, raised money for, and organized the first integrated senior prom in the school's history. The school doesn't sponsor the proms; since the school was desegregated in 1971, the proms have been private, invitation-only events sponsored by parents - and they have been segregated.

The four students set up a Facebook group, which raised enough money to not only rent a ballroom but to buy gift bags for attendees and they say they have money left over to help local families in need. They had a simple motivation for organizing the event, they said: They wanted to attend the prom together.

So almost 60 years after the Supreme Court supposedly put an end to “separate but equal,” on April 27 many high school students in Wilcox County, Georgia, attended their first integrated prom. And it came off without a hitch and everyone had a great time.

As one student said,
“Everybody goes to school together, sits together at lunch, so we’re at prom together. It’s about time people start recognizing."
But not everyone is willing to do that, it seems: The four say that people hit them with the "It's always been this way" line. Posters at the school advertising the integrated prom were torn down. And there will still be a whites-only prom.

But change is rarely easy and the road even more rarely smooth. Still, the road is there and these four have gone down it far enough that the school administration says it will consider ways to have a school-sponsored solution for next year. Which makes these four high-school students heroes.

Oh, a quick footnote: Don't cut the school any slack on the basis of the "they're private parties" line: The school does sponsor the Homecoming Dance - and it is still segregated.


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