Georgia Teens Fed Up With Segregated Proms

Biracial group sets out to raise money for an integrated prom.

ByABC News
April 4, 2013, 12:59 PM

Apr. 4, 2013— -- The U.S. Supreme Court deemed segregated public schools unconstitutional in 1954, but the spirit of that ruling appears to have been lost in time in the tiny South Georgia town of Rochelle.

Students and parents are once again organizing separate proms for the high school's black and white students.

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

So a biracial group of four best friends who attend Wilcox County High School have set out to change history, raising money to host an integrated prom in the town of nearly 1,200 people, about 51 percent of them white, 46 percent black, according to census figures.

READ MORE: A 'First-Ever' Integrated Prom

Stephanie says she does everything with her three best friends, two of whom are black. "That's just kind of not right that we can't go to prom together," she said.

Senior Keela Bloodworth, another organizer of the integrated prom effort who's white, said her black friends wouldn't dare come to the other dance.

"They would probably have the police come out there and escort them off the premises," Bloodworth told WGXA.

It's not just the school prom that's segregated. Homecoming falls into the same pattern, featuring two separate dances. Senior Quanesha Wallace, a black student, was elected homecoming queen this year and a white student was voted homecoming king. But the two students attended separate homecoming dances.

The district hasn't paid for a prom in 30 years, leaving the planning up to student groups that are free to organize them as they wish, Wilcox County Schools Superintendent Steve Smith told ABC News.

Smith says that when the group of female students approached the Board of Education this time around about hosting an integrated prom, the district applauded their idea and even passed a resolution advocating that all activities involving students be inclusive and non-discriminatory.

"I fully support these ladies, and I consider it an embarrassment to our schools and community that these events have been segregated," Smith said. "Skin color seems to be a much larger issue for the adults than the students, and my prayer is that this effort will be a huge step toward reconciling the wrongs of the past."

Although the school district has been supportive, it hasn't offered to pay for the integrated prom. The students have set up a Facebook page asking the public for donations, but the idea hasn't been well-received by everyone.

"I actually put up posters for the integrated prom and we've had people ripping them down at the school," Keela told WGXA.

Wilcox County High School isn't the only school in Georgia that holds segregated school dances. Nearby Taylor County High School held separate proms until recently, as have a number of other schools located in small rural counties.

The reasoning seems to be same in all the cases: The school districts stopped sponsoring proms and left it up to student groups, which decided to hold separate events.