Segregation Continues in Year 2013

Autumn R.

Staff Writer

After President Johnson issued the Civil Rights Act, segregation within public places and schools ceased to exist any longer, or so most thought. In Wilcox County, Georgia, segregation has continued to take place over the past couple years at Wilcox County High School. Since the school opened, its prom and homecoming dances have been segregated into a “white prom” and a “black prom.” The school board is pointing fingers at Wilcox County High School for allowing this, but school officials claim it is not their choice, but the students’ choice.

Wilcox County High School consists of only four hundred students, mostly white, and it is part of the only school district in all of the United States to maintain a segregated prom. How did such a small school keep these events quiet for so long and just now draw the nation’s attention? Seniors from Wilcox County High School, both black and white, developed a Facebook page in order to grab people’s attention to help aid in the hopeful intention to finally end their segregated dances. WHS junior Madison Schroeder comments, “I think it was smart of them to make a Facebook page because it could grab people’s attention all around the world.” Most of the feedback was positive in the aid to terminate the segregation, and they also received funds to fund an integrated prom for the year 2013.

Negative feedback from the Facebook page was seen within the school, and oddly nowhere else. Most of the student population supported the idea of integrating prom, and the leaders of the movement assumed that all of the students wanted a combined prom, until some viscous reactions took place. Leaders of the integration movement placed signs to advocate the cause all around the school, to get the attention of teachers and administration, but some students ripped the posters down. Has the school instilled segregation upon the students, or is this attributed to how some students were raised? These questions still remain unanswered, but when the school was questioned about the segregated prom, the administration continued to insist that it is not their fault.

Many people around the country are pointing fingers at the school for forcing segregated prom and homecoming dances. The school’s response was that they take no part in organizing the dances, and it is truly the choice of the students to have segregated dances. Senior Michael Blumhardt comments, “Even though the school is technically not involved, they have to claim some responsibility.”  The school has no part in the dances because they do not have funding options to put towards the dances, so they let the kids raise the money themselves for whichever dance they are attending. With that response, school officials are claiming that they are neither endorsing it nor holding it, but by silencing the issue and acting as if it is not a significant issue, they do appear to be allowing it. Silence embraces something that is truly wrong and unacceptable in every way possible. Because this news has leaked out to the public, a very visible organization, the NAACP, has taken initiative to solve this issue and to get donations to the school to help let the school become involved and responsible for all of the dances.

Students from Wilcox County High School told a CNN news crew that for the past couple years, students had tried to make this integrated prom possible, but seniors of 2013 fought harder than before. Because they fought so hard, some people within Wilcox County became angry. They did not like the media attention because it made them seem like “some county in south Georgia that will forever be racist,” or some citizens truly are racist and see change as something that is not needed. Due to these reactions, CNN could only get a few people from the county to willingly be interviewed.

The seniors who fought for integrated prom 2013 won. They received enough donations to be able to have the dance. One hundred students attended, and this number was more than past years’ participants. Students took pictures, wobbled in their heels, traded t-shirts for tuxes, and acted as all teenagers would at a prom; it did not matter if they were black or white. Everyone danced the night away and had an amazing time as one student body, instead of a divided one.

Who would have thought that a little high school in Wilcox County, Georgia, would get not only national attention, but world-wide attention. Only Wilcox County High School achieved having an integrated prom in 2013. All other schools within the same county did not, but they are taking steps to follow Wilcox County High. Junior Lauren Nielly comments, “It is sad that the other high schools in the county didn’t do the same, but hopefully in the future they will.” What was once abolished decades ago sadly still exists today, but this generation of teenagers is taking matters into their own hands to finally put segregation into history. Just by a few seniors speaking out against a tradition that they knew was morally wrong, they made a strong impact and sent a powerful message across not only the country, but the world.

 

 

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