Georgia Teens Fight For First-Ever Racially Integrated Prom

If you thought that the doctrine of “separate but equal” was done away when the U.S. Supreme Court deemed segregated public schools unconstitutional in 1954, think again.

In Rochelle, a small town in Wilcox County, Georgia, students attend separate proms: white students from Wilcox County attend one, and African-American students, another. These are private events organized by parents and students, not the school district.

When the school was integrated 30 years ago, it ended its annual prom and parents began sponsoring their own private dances for students. The prom and homecoming dances have been segregated ever since.

According to WSFA, a biracial student tried to attend an all-white prom last year; he was turned away and the police were called.

As someone who has taught in high schools around the U.S. and attended several proms (but never in the southern states), I have a hard time even imagining this.

From ABC news:

“We’re embarrassed; it’s embarrassing,” white high school senior Stephanie Sinnot told WGXA-TV, the ABC News affiliate in Macon, Ga.

But all this could finally change in 2013.

A biracial group of four best friends who attend Wilcox County High School are raising money to organize the school’s very first racially integrated prom in the town of nearly 1,200 people, about 51 percent of them white, 46 percent black, according to census figures. The dance will be held on April 27.

Stephanie Sinnot, Mareshia Rucker, Quanesha Wallace and Keela Bloodworth (seen above) are best friends, and feel it’s just not right that they can’t go to prom together.

“We live in rural south Georgia, where not too many things change,” they wrote on a Facebook page they created, entitled “Love Has No Color.” “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.”

The prom’s Facebook page has garnered around 19,000 “likes” since it was set up last Wednesday, with a lot of positive comments. “I am shocked and amazed as an American that in this day and age this sort of segregation continues. More power to you as students and leaders that you take the bill by the horns and change such an antiquated and prejudicial situation. Hope you have a wonderful time at your prom!!” one person wrote.

Another contributed: “You are civil rights leaders of 2013 I am so encouraged by what you are doing. I believe that your generation has the power to make things better. Keep going and never give up.”

The response at Wilcox High has been more mixed, as some students have been ripping down posters for the integrated prom.

The Wilcox County schools website does not list a prom in its calendar of events, nor is the controversy referenced in their “School News” section. And while they have stated their support for the idea, they have not contributed to prom costs for 30 years, and apparently don’t intend to start now.

But kudos to Stephanie, Mareshia, Quanesha and Keela for having the courage to demand change. However this prom turns out, they are challenging the assumptions of a segregated past, and that takes a lot of guts.


Related Care2 Coverage

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10 Reasons Segregation In Schools Still Exists


Photo Credit: WSFA online video


Robynne W.
Robynne W4 years ago

Glad you were able to hold your integrated prom! Your pictures show it looked like everyone had a very good time. Proud of you!

Rose Becke4 years ago

Kudos to her but this should not be happening at all it is outrageous

Julimar C.
Julimar C4 years ago

So where would biracial students, or those of other races go? This is why no money in the world can convince me to move to a southern state. A friend of mine who is white but Puerto Rican told me of her experiences with racism while living in Georgia. I wonder if she would fared much worse had her skin color and features been different? Stories like this traumatize me. I hope these kids manage to make a difference. It's disgusting that something like this still happens.

Michael H.
Mike H4 years ago

Welcome to the 21st century!

Jessica Nielsen
Jessica Nielsen4 years ago

I'm confused. It's the actual citizens of Georgia who are doing this and yet they are ashamed of themselves... Are they also of low IQ?

If you feel shamed, stop being stupid. What the heck.

Myriam G.
Myriam G4 years ago

"Stephanie Sinnot, Mareshia Rucker, Quanesha Wallace and Keela Bloodworth (seen above)are best friends, and feel it’s just not right that they can’t go to prom together."

That sentence sums it up: these girls go to the same school, are best friends, but cannot go the same prom party because they have different hair colour... I mean, look at the photo, they clearly have different hair colour, right?
Ok, I'll stop with the irony, now. It was just to show how absurd things can get when people are separated by "race", which ony means the hue of one's skin, when you really think about it...

I really wish I could contribute and send money to those girls and help make their prom the most successful ever!

Sandra D.
Sandra D4 years ago

Wow............ hard to believe. I am still reeling and if I was a member of the school board or on the faculty of the school( or even just an informed citizen of the town) I would be so embarrassed right now! It is so hard to believe that this kind of apartheid (because that is what it is) still exists today in the US. This is shameful and all the citizens of this town should back these 4 brave and insightful teenagers in their quest for equality! Maybe not enough of the citizenry have graduated from high school to understand what this says about their little town but I am thinking that this should put them on the national stage real soon!

Latoya Brookins
Latoya Brookins4 years ago

I'm like Mary D, wouldn't be allowed at either prom. I'm multi-racial. Or rather, quadruple-racial. Mexican American, Native American, African American, French. And being bisexual would add a whole new mix into it that probably wouldn't be allowed.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia4 years ago

Wtf is wrong with the South?! Seriously! I have so much respect for these kids for taking such an important stand.

Anne Marie M.

The South is the South. There are more racists there than anywhere else in the US. Many racists live suburbs of Atlanta. I know that for a fact. Its not just Georgia, but, Georgia is one of the worse. Alabama, S.and N. Carolina, Virginia (is really bad) and Mississippi, Tennessee, Louiisana, Wesst Virgnia and many more states. Its hard to accept, but, the truth is the truth.
Why are Southern Governors trying to surpress the vote, by making it so difficult for people to vote...???forcing them to register, throwing them off the voter registration lists, ???? No, its not in just one "backward" town, its all over the South.