Commenters on the AJC Get Schooled blog had a range of reactions to an effort by four students in Wilcox County to dissuade classmates from traditional segregated proms, a vestige of 1970s integration when proms went off campus and became private events sponsored by parents. The students are holding an integrated prom, and their effort has garnered international attention. Here is a sampling of the comments:
Alabama: Are the levels of segregation at high school proms any different from what you'd find if you walked through neighborhoods or went to local houses of worship, social club events, or places where people gather to relax? How well do the kids get along at school? That's a lot more important than how they spend their free time.
Zeke: Why should segregated proms be illegal? Regardless of the current socialist agenda, the Constitution gives us all the right to associate with whom we please, or to not associate with others. Has nothing to do with racism or perceived bigotry.
Wiser: Welcome to the real South that has not died after the Civil War.
Indigo: Birds of a feather flock together. All the social experiments and political pressures in the world won't change this. But political correctness rules today, and some people just never learn.
Archie: I never worked in Wilcox County, but I worked for a system in pretty much the same neighborhood, and they had separate proms.
Simmer: For those who are saying, "People should be able to associate with whomever they choose," please enlighten us. Where does that stop — separate schools? Separate eating establishments? Separate sports teams? I am serious; tell us where the line is. Before you say prom is different because it is a private function, so are eating establishments and country clubs.
Mangler: In South Florida, our proms and all other dances or events were sponsored by the school, whether they took place on school campus or in a rented space somewhere. Therefore, they fell under the school's jurisdiction and related rules. Nobody in any grade would have even considered separate events by race.
Ann: As a native who grew up in Spalding County in the '60s and '70s, this shocks me. My high school held integrated proms with no issues. The proms were held on campus and were fun and well-attended. This was in the years just after schools integrated. I am puzzled as to why Griffin was able to hold successfully integrated proms, while these other places took a different path. Unfortunately, people outside of Georgia will tend to think all rural Georgia towns are like that.
The Deal: Private parties are one thing, but proms are another. Everyone knows that proms are synonymous with school, and as such should be sponsored by the school and be inclusive. If someone wants to host a pre-prom party, an after-prom party, a birthday party, a barbecue, whatever, and discriminate, that's their right, but we can't pretend that the once-a-year event called prom should be a private event. The school has a responsibility to speak out against the private proms because, traditionally, there is one prom.
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Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC