A group of Georgia high school students are making history by challenging the segregation of their high school prom. Thanks to their efforts and the support of groups like the NAACP, Wilcox County High will hold its first ever integrated prom this Saturday, nearly 60 years after Brown v. Board of Education desegregated the nation's school system. In the past, the proms have been organized by private groups, and parents behind the "white prom" have refused to let African-American students attend. Local officials say the segregated prom has continued because it is organized privately, out of the school district's control.
Democracy Now! speaks to 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.
News of the case spread quickly over social media, fueling support and donations for an integrated prom from as far away as Australia and South Korea.
"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," Davis explains. "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.'"
Tony Rucker adds: "It has been a trying process, but through it all, these kids have planted their feet and they said, 'We're going to do this.' And so as a parent, I have to get on board with something that is right, something that is good for the community collectively and something that unifies us, unifies us all showing that there is no difference between us, besides from the color of our skin. And so it's been a fight but it's been the best fight that I've had in my lifetime, I'll say... As a parent, this is one of the most rewarding things that could happen to a parent: to see their child display all of their morals and values that you instill in them from very young."
In addition, Democracy Now! airs an excerpt from a recent interview with Carlotta Walls LaNier, who was 14-years old when she became one of the "Little Rock Nine" who integrated Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas in 1957.