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The Tradition of Segregation Continues in Georgia High School

The Tradition of Segregation Continues in Georgia High School

The New York Times recently ran a disturbing story about Montgomery County High School in Mount Vernon, Georgia. Since it became integrated in 1971, it has held segregated proms.

Students had mixed opinions on the issue. Those in favor or indifferent cited tradition as the main reason. One girl who is white believes it is not a major issue, claiming it is “not about being racist…we all eat lunch together.” Her mother adds, “Why change something that has worked? It’s not broken.” On the other hand, Kera Nobles, a black student, reveals, “It really is hurtful. I go to school with you…I sit beside you at graduation, but I can’t go to prom with you for one night?”

Unfortunately Montgomery County High School is not a unique case. Actor Morgan Freeman offered to pay for an integrated prom for Charleston High School in his home state of Mississippi. While the students expressed interest, a number of white parents decided to hold a private whites-only prom.

High school student Angel Howard sums it up when she says, “I wish color wouldn’t be such a big factor in Montgomery County, period…The prom is the least of our problems.”

Read the entire article and listen to audio interviews by clicking on the link.

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29 comments

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12:14PM PDT on Jun 3, 2009

I've never experienced institutionalized segregation, but I experience the endemic after-effects of racism every day. I'm sorry nice, anti-racist white folks, "Color-blind" is a fiction designed to make you feel good about accepting the status-quo and not doing anything about racism. Can you really, honestly, look at the people around you and _not see_ the color of their skin or the shape of their features? I thank God we have come together and overcome our racism enough to elect a black president, a man who is perfect for the job and happens to have an African father. Has it changed the way you look at black people a little? THERE! That's it. That feeling. That's how you know you're not really color-blind, no matter how open-minded, inclusive and anti-racist you are. I didn't really change what I thought about black people much but I was suddenly free to be a little more openly friendly because many black people have changed how they think about _themselves_, so they lift their heads and smile at me, too. There's nothing special or wonderful about me that made me white and there's nothing wrong with them that made them black. Racism is integrated into our society, culture, economics, politics, news, entertainment, laws, you name it. We've ripped out a lot of that garbage but it's not all gone and we still have a moral obligation to root out racism and raise up our brothers. Being poor doesn't mean you don't work hard. Being rich doesn't mean you deserve it.

1:33AM PDT on May 30, 2009

Anyone has freedom in thinking and acting. However, the extreme segregation will kill integration

5:11AM PDT on May 27, 2009

I'm so sorry that they used their childs to pass their racism and chauvinism behaviors, they don't know where they really come from,they should read the world history and began to understand what's going in the world, now that you guy's, have to be proud to have a black american president, no such things should be allowed anymore...

4:23PM PDT on May 26, 2009

Marilyn, since it isn't a "school prom", but rather a private dance organized by the parents, the school really couldn't do anything about it. Since people have the legal right to have private parties with any guest list they please.

Sadly enough.

4:14PM PDT on May 26, 2009

It is unbelievable that in this day and age that segregation of this sort is going on and is not illegal.
We interact with other races, creeds, colors and religion in every day life where we live and work. The school should be teaching diversity, understanding and compassion.

As an individual you can socialize with whom ever you please but to specifically deny an integrated prom is a school that I would not want to send my children to.

10:27AM PDT on May 26, 2009

...and Southerners (even those that have "migrated" north--like myself) wonder why the rest of the country/world stereotype people from that part of our country as being ignorant and narrow minded. I am ashamed and disgusted.

5:51AM PDT on May 26, 2009

I saw a movie not long ago called "For just one night" (or something close to it)which was based on a true story about the black/white Prom issue in some school somewhere in america (forgot where) where one black girl managed to convince the school and white students/parents, to have a combined Prom. It worked for that particular time, but they went back to the segregated one the following year. Pretty sad state of affairs.

4:53AM PDT on May 26, 2009

Jackie, I've never seen any allegations of any problems between the students. And if there had been - why would the only result be that the white parents would insist upon a separate prom for their children?

This is prejudice, pure and simple. It, without question, started out as a way of saying, "You can force us to integrate the school but you can't force us to socialize with 'them' outside of school." It was about making a "statement" - making sure those "interlopers" understood just how unwelcome they were. (And, heaven help us, with an integrated prom, a black boy might actually have danced with a white girl - and the sky would have fallen.)

I saw a great deal of that attitude when I was growing up. People making damned sure that they let those "uppity Negroes" know exactly how they felt about integration. It was ugly beyond belief.

And, even though in many ways attitudes have changed since it began, things just stayed the same with regard to the prom. It became "traditional". For almost 40 years.

3:51AM PDT on May 26, 2009

before we rush off and judge the actions of the parents perhaps we need to know if there has been a high rate of intimidation, thuggery, sexual harassment, etc. If the answer is no, then there should be no reason for separation.

10:59PM PDT on May 25, 2009

Wow. This is so disturbing and outrageous I don't even know where to start.

I just read the NYTimes article and one quote from one of the black teenagers really struck me. Of course the white parents' behavior is reprehensible, but how about that of their children who claim to oppose the segregated proms? In response to their white friends' professed inability to change the situation, one black teen expressed this sentiment, “You’re 18 years old! You’re old enough to smoke, drive, do whatever else you want to. Why aren’t you able to step up and say, ‘I want to have my senior prom with the people I’m graduating with?’”

Exactly. These white seniors are young adults and are fully capable of protesting this situation if they truly disagree with it. By going to their white-only prom they are making a very clear statement that they support segregation in certain situations, which is appalling. I hope I am able to raise my children better than that.

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