Cordele Dispatch, Cordele, GA

Local news

April 9, 2013

Wilcox students push for integrated prom

Rochelle — A local story about a group of students striving to hold an integrated prom has gone viral, generating responses from across the country and even as far away as Canada and Australia via social networking.

The cause generated  a big enough response to fund the event which will be the first of its kind in the county.

Wilcox County students had no idea that so many people would rally to the cause. It all began with four young ladies, Stephanie Sinnot, Mareshia Rucker, Quanesha Wallace and Keela Bloodworth, friends since the fourth grade who have spoken to several media outlets, saying they have always done everything together, except prom night.

All four are seniors at Wilcox County High School; Stephanie and Keela are white and Mareshia and Quanesha are black. They say they are embarassed that students continue to hold segregated dances. It is an issue that is not limited to prom but homecoming as well.

This year, for the first time the school elected one homecoming court where in the past they have elected a white and black court. Wallace was crowned queen, and a white young man was crowned king.

“For me to be black and the king to be white, I felt like, why can’t we come together? I felt like there had to be a change,” Wallace said.

However, Wallace was not invited to attend what many refer to as the “white” prom, and she and the king took separate pictures for the yearbook.

“When people around here are so set in their ways, they are reluctant to change,” said Rucker.

The girls are taking the matter into their own hands. They are part of a group of students organizing a prom for everyone to attend, called the “Integrated Prom,” but they say that not everyone is fond of the idea.

According to Bloodworth, posters for the prom were put up at school but an unknown person or persons had been ripping them from the walls. The girls are not letting this setback affect their goal for unity at prom time. They say they will continue to work toward progress despite the fact that there does not seem to be much motivation to change.

There will be two proms in Wilcox County, neither of which are funded by or affiliated with the school system.

The students did approach members of the board of education on the matter, and the board offered a resolution commending the students for organizing an integrated prom that will allow all students to attend.

The school board, however, is not responsible for any parties the students choose to fund and hold off school campus. With Wilcox County schools out for spring break this past week, efforts to contact the board of education for an official comment were unsuccessful.

It has been reported that a school board member told WGXA-TV he wants the school to stay clear of prom for liability reasons.

Rochelle City Councilman Wayne McGuinty told WGXA-TV that he feels it is more a case of personal opinions.

“I don’t think there is an effort made to keep black kids out of the white prom or white kids out of the black prom.” McGuinty said when he was a student, there were three dances, a black prom and two white proms because students could not agree if they wanted a live band or a disc jockey.

Students with “Integrated Prom” say otherwise. According to Bloodworth, a bi-racial student attempted to attend the “white” prom last year and was turned away.

Students have created a page on the social networking site, facebook entitled “Integrated Prom” and have a link for anyone wishing to donate to the cause. The group also set up a pay pal account.

According to reports, the group has raised more than they had hoped for, and the integrated prom will be held on Saturday, April 27 at the Cordele Community Clubhouse. The students invite the public to come and take part in the occasion.

 Rucker told WALB-TV she would like the actions of the Class of 2013 serve as a precedent for future graduating classes and inspire change at the school.

"Hopefully, it rubs off," Rucker said. "I feel like they will carry it on and keep doing the same thing so that we won't fall back in the ways we were previously."

Students were planning to use excess donations to help “pay it forward” and perform a kind deed for someone else.

 

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