Four students at Wilcox County High School in Georgia want to attend prom together — but under the current setup, they won’t be allowed to unless they throw their own. Wilcox County High School’s proms are still segregated by race, meaning Stephanie Sinnot, Mareshia Rucker, Quanesha Wallace, and Keela Bloodworth — half of whom are black and half of whom are white — would be forced to attend separate proms:
Stephanie and Keela are white and Mareshia and Quanesha are black. They’re seniors at Wilcox County High School, a school that has never held an integrated prom during its existence.
“There’s a white prom and there’s an integrated prom,” said Keela.
The rule is strictly enforced, any race other than Caucasian wouldn’t dare to attend the white prom.
“They would probably have the police come out there and escort them off the premises,” said Keela. That was the case just last year as a biracial student was turned away by police.
There will still be two proms this year. Neither proms are financed by or allowed to take place at Wilcox County High School. The students said that when they pushed for one prom, the school offered a resolution to permit an integrated prom that would allow all students to attend but not stop segregated proms.
Since the school won’t stand up to the parental groups that organize the segregated proms, the high school seniors have launched a fundraiser to start their own integrated prom on April 27. But they are facing opposition from more “tradition-bound” classmates; the girls reported putting up posters for an integrated prom at school, only to have them ripped down. Their Facebook page, however, is raising enthusiasm (and money) from all over the country.
Though black and white Wilcox students share other aspects of school space, like classrooms and sports fields, there are many unspoken divisions straight out of the pre-civil rights era. According to a feature on WCHS, white students sit in the back during class, while black kids sit in front. Black kids have lunch outside while white kids have theirs in the yard. White students — particularly girls — who date black students risk being ostracized and bullied.
Wilcox may be a rare holdover of a bygone era, but segregated proms have lasted well past Jim Crow. A nearby school in Taylor County only desegregated their prom in 2002 through the efforts of one young woman. Even so, some juniors held their own white prom separate from the integrated prom. Another school in Charleston, Georgia attracted national attention in 2009 for its segregated prom.