It may be hard to believe in 2014, but one school district hosted an integrated prom for the first time this year.
Wilcox County High School in Rochelle, GA sponsored its first prom allowing Black and white students to be in attendance. Since 1971, the students’ parents could sponsor segregated invitation-only proms — literally, one for only Black students and another for White students — that weren’t sponsored by the school. Even though Wilcox school officials decided to support this year’s prom, some students have said many of the teachers are not too pleased about it. “I’m absolutely sure that there are teachers that are still in the system right now that are at my school and they still don’t want an integrated prom,” student Mareshia Rucker told ABC News.
Thankfully, the students feel differently. Other students told ABC that integrated prom should have been held years ago and they’re finally glad to be able to attend the same prom as their friends. Last year students took matters into their own hands and organized their own prom for all students, without Wilcox’s sponsorship. Stephanie Sinnot, Mareshia Rucker, Quanesha Wallace and Keela Bloodworth started a Facebook group in 2014 to raise money that would allow them to “attend prom together.” The friends eventually earned enough money to rent a ballroom and buy gift bags for attendees, and nearly half of the student body registered for the prom. In addition, the NAACP’s Georgia chapter supported the students’ prom and had even asked the Wilcox school board to consider sponsoring a prom in the future. Fortunately, the school listened this year.
I’m personally not surprised that there are still school officials who would keep Black and white students from attending the same prom. Prom is seen as an important moment for students and even an anxiety-inducing moment for parents. It’s the one time of year where students can mingle, party and even start romantic relationships. But, add that pressure to a complicated state, like Georgia, and it’s bound to create a divide between the old generation and the new. I’m glad the students were proactive enough last year to create their own memories and not let a segregated system keep them from forming friendships in the first place. Let’s hope this is the last time a first-ever, school-sponsored prom for all students will be news.