Bridging the Gap: First Time in 40 Years, Black and White Students Celebrate Together

Bridging the Gap: First Time in 40 Years, Black and White Students Celebrate Together

U.S. -- For any teenager, prom is a monumental night, but for students at a Georgia high school, it has been more than 40 years in the making. For the first time ever, students at Wilcox County High School, in Georgia danced together at a prom that wasn't segregated.

Bridging the Gap: First Time in 40 Years, Black and White Students Celebrate Together

Read more: U.S.: Georgia School to Hold FIRST "Racially Integrated" Prom Dance

Almost half a century after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed racial discrimination in schools and other public places, black and white students in Georgia's rural Wilcox County danced together for the first time at prom over the weekend.

"I feel like we are living Martin Luther King's dream," student Alexis Miller is quoted as saying.

Miller, who is white, attended Saturday's event with her black boyfriend.

This year, a group of Wilcox County seniors decided to take matters into their own hands.

Racially segregated proms have been held in Wilcox County almost every year since the schools integrated in the 1970s. In a long-standing tradition, parents raised money to host separate dances, the community referred to one as the "black prom" and the other as the "white prom."

Traditionally, most students were welcome to the "black prom" but an unwritten rule kept students of different races from attending the "white prom."

Wilcox County High School was quick to point out on its website that it hasn't organized or hosted the segregated proms that have been traditional. It called the events "private parties" over which it "has no influence."

Georgia NAACP joins call for integrated prom after students plan their own dance. But perhaps nothing had as much impact as a Facebook page started by the small group of students who organized the integrated prom.

As of Monday, with the prom finished, the page, carrying the banner "Love Has No Color" had almost 30,000 'likes.'

So many donors came forward – from as far away as Australia -- that the students say they have money left over to help local families in need.

The students' appeal was simple and from the heart: "We live in rural south Georgia, where not too many things change," the page says. "Well, as a group of adamant high school seniors, we want to make a difference in our community. For the first time in the history of our county, we plan to have an integrated prom."

"We were doing that so we could get the word out, so that some people would be able to donate and help us out with what we were doing," said senior Mareshia Rucker.

On its website, Wilcox County Schools praised the efforts of the student organizers, saying they were seeking "to right the wrongs of the past."

Bridging the Gap: First Time in 40 Years, Black and White Students Celebrate Together

Despite this year's groundbreaking integrated dance, once again this year there was a segregated prom attended only by white students. It wasn't an officially sanctioned event, but a private one organized by white parents.

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