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Social Issues
High School Students In Georgia Organizing Their First Integrated Prom
April 6, 2013
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Photo: CBS Atlanta

The other day we did a post honouring the great Martin Luther King Jr. on the 45th anniversary of his death.

And yet, here we are in the year 2013, and we still don't live in the kind of world Dr. King envisioned.

Case in point: this story about a group of high school students in Georgia who are organizing their first integrated prom.

They go to Wilcox County High School, the last county in Georgia where are dances are still segregated.

As USA Today reports, in Georgia "proms are organized by private groups, like parents, and not by the school" - which means "separate proms for black and white students."

And as CNN says, "schools have long been desegregated, but in Wilcox County, the dances never changed."

Well now, some students have had enough and are hosting their own prom on April 27 where everyone is welcome.

Keela Bloodworth, one of the organizers, told USA Today the students have known each other for years. They go to class together, play sports together, hang out together.

"We're basically siblings," Keela said. "We've spent more time together than anyone else."

The students have a Facebook page with the following message:

"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."

They've raised money, made fliers, hired a DJ, rented a place, sold more than 50 tickets so far, and plan to start a new prom tradition: a unity toast.

Here's a report from CBS Atlanta.

But changing things hasn't been easy.

"I put up posters for the 'Integrated Prom' and we've had people ripping them down at the school," said Keela.

Quanesha Wallace is another one of the organizers. This year, she was homecoming queen. But she couldn't go to the "white" homecoming because she's black.

And she and the homecoming king, who's white, were photographed for the yearbook separately.

"Hearing from other students that I couldn't, they didn't want me to go, it kind of saddened my heart a little," she told WMAZ news.

"I felt like there had to be a change," she said. "For me to be a black person and the king to be a white person, I felt like why can't we come together."

On its website, the school district makes a point of mentioning it doesn't organize any proms.

The school district superintendent said "I fully support these ladies, and I consider it an embarrassment to our schools and community that these events have portrayed us as bigoted in any way."

The school's principal and his team say they will talk about a 2014 prom at their next meeting.

Wilcox County, Georgia is not the only place with a racially segregated prom.

In 2009, Canadian documentary maker Paul Saltzman made a film called 'Prom Night In Mississippi', about the first integrated prom in Charleston, Mississippi.

Here's the trailer.

Morgan Freeman, who's from the area, offered in 1997 to pay for the prom if it was integrated, but the school board didn't agree until 2008.

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