Georgia’s Wilcox County High School will hold its first ever integrated prom this Saturday, nearly 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education desegregated the nation’s school system. The integrated prom comes after a small “group of [young] ladies” teamed up with the NAACP to pressure school administrators and community leaders to let the event go forward.
In Georgia, proms are organized by private groups, like parents, and not by the school. But since Wilcox County is the last county in Georgia where dances are still segregated by race, WMAZ-TV reported, that has meant separate proms for black and white students.
The students from the small town in rural south Georgia called attention to their efforts by starting a Facebook page that has more than 24,000 “likes.” The “Integrated Prom” page says it represents a group of adamant high school seniors” who “want to make a difference” in their community.
“For the first time in the history of our county, we plan to have an integrated prom,” the Facebook page’s description reads.
“At first, we had a whole bunch of students who you could tell that wanted to support it, but they were too scared to stand out and stand against, not their peers, but their parents,” student Brandon Davis told Democracy Now. “But as times progressed we’ve had more and more students change come help us out — and we’ve actually had more parents. At first, parents were like, ‘Well, that’s tradition, let’s just stay it this way.’ But after time, their children changed and they were like, ‘Hey, I’m going to support my children, this is their memory, Lets go.’”
The Wilcox County Board of Education published a statement on their website that explains “earlier in this school year, a group of ladies approached the Wilcox County Board of Education and the Superintendent to discuss their plans for hosting an ‘integrated prom’.” They go on to point the students may be making history by creating institutional changes.
“The Board and Superintendent not only applauded the idea, but passed a resolution requesting that all activities involving WCS students be inclusive and non-discriminatory,” the statement read.
Democracy Now! has an extended interview with two of the students who are helping to organize the integrated prom: Mareshia Rucker and Brandon Davis. Also interviewed is Mareshia’s mother, Toni Rucker, who encouraged her daughter’s efforts.