A Georgia high school sought for 40 years to evade federal anti-discrimination laws by not holding any school sanctioned proms and instead allowing parents to host their own private “whites only” proms. But, some white and black students hosted a Facebook page calling for a school sanctioned prom that would open to all students regardless of race, and this weekend’s event proved to be a huge success, with not only white and blacks couples, but mixed couples attending the event as well.
But, the Republican Governor of Georgia has created a real political issue for himself by being silent and refusing to endorse the integrated prom. Gov. Nathan Deal will likely face a new campaign issue when he seeks re-election by his silence on this issue. At one time, it was the Southern democrats such as George Wallace or Lester Maddox who were viewed as the strongest supporters of segregation in the South. Lester Maddox was viewed as the last staunch segregationist democrat governor of Georgia, before the election of Jimmy Carter who opened up a new era of reform in the governor’s office of Georgia. Jimmy Carter became such a popular figure that he was urged to run for president, winning a close election in 1976 over President Gerald Ford. But, problems with the economy as well as the Iran hostage crisis hurt Jimmy Carter, making him a one-term president. Traditionally, during the reconstruction era, the republicans in the South attracted some black candidates who were elected to high political offices, but in the following years, Southern democrat segregationists hurt black voting rights in the South. From 1964 on, many segregationists left the democratic party after Strom Thurmond became a republican, creating a political realignment of many Southern voters who opposed federal anti-discrimination policies of the Kennedy and Johnson era White House.
The fact that it took this many years for one Georgia high school to hold an integrated prom, where parents for 40 years helped to evade federal anti-discrimination laws is sad testimony to some racial discrimination problems that still persist in some parts of the country, where America as a whole is willing to twice elect a black president by two electoral vote landslides, but racial discrimination still exists in some pockets.
Students grew weary of the barriers to open and integrated proms and decided for themselves to host their own school sanctioned prom. However, some parents of white students also hosted their own private “whites only” prom event as well.