The Dance of Desegregation

Nearly 40 years after Georgia high schools were desegregated, high school students in several small towns were forced to separate on the one of the grandest nights in their lives. Until now.

For a moment, put yourself in Wilcox County, GA, located 120 miles south of Atlanta. The population is diverse.Roughly 70 percent of the citizens are black, 27 percent are white, and the rest are Latino, Asian or other. It’s a normal southern county, with large Victorian houses and sassafras trees in full bloom in the spring.

As the Wilcox Community School District entered the twilight of the school year, streamers were erected in a theater in Fitzgerald, a town located in the county. Students clad in tuxedos and long, billowing dresses accompanied each other to prom, a traditional high school dance all across the U.S. Thing is, this prom was, well, different. Everyone was white.

The context of the situation is important. Due to the fact that Wilcox County is so small, the school does not hold its own prom. Instead, students and parents organize their own dances. They call them the “Black and White Proms.”

Some of the young people there realized the rest of the world has since left 1968 and organized an integrated prom, more commonly known in every other part of the country as “prom.” It was open to everyone: black, white, Asian, Hispanic etc. The organizers, who were also black, white, Asian, Hispanic etc. lost friends over the deal. Yet, they carried on.

On April 27, blacks held the hands of Asians. Both Kenny Chesney and Lil’ Wayne played through the same speakers as Wilcox County had its first “integrated prom.” And, it was absolutely normal.

Some say the segregated proms are encouraged by adults in the communities who want to keep things like they have “always been.” Others attribute the proms as a “habit that’s hard to break.”

It’s absolutely incredible how something of this magnitude can continue to go on. The parents who encourage these proms are embarrassments to the human race, which is, as they have clearly failed to notice, of one people. To them, tradition trumps logic and love. That’s a damn shame.

At some point, these traditions mean absolutely nothing. And they shouldn’t. It’s unfortunate the young people of Wilcox County have been subjugated to these activities.

If racism is to ever
leave this wonderful planet, it’s people like the students in Wilcox County, GA, who will make it happen. Eventually, their integrated prom will take charge and the term “black and white” will disappear.

The children of Wilcox County do embody the spirit of America. In the face of bigotry and ignorant traditions, they continue to dance.

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