Dance moves

  • Follow Metro

ASHBURN, Ga. - In the uncomfortable aftermath of desegregation, the students at Turner County High continued to go their separate ways when it came to the prom. White students organized car washes and raffles to raise money for their own unofficial prom, and black students did the same to throw a separate party.

Senior class representatives Christin Lord (from left), James Hall, Jaclyn Lumpkin and Joshua Boney stand in front of the countdown billboard at Turner High School in Ashburn, Ga. For the first time, every junior and senior, regardless of race, will be invited to a school-sponsored prom.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Senior class representatives Christin Lord (from left), James Hall, Jaclyn Lumpkin and Joshua Boney stand in front of the countdown billboard at Turner High School in Ashburn, Ga. For the first time, every junior and senior, regardless of race, will be invited to a school-sponsored prom.

After a few decades, the de facto segregation became tradition.

The classrooms, cafeteria and playing fields at the southwest Georgia school were a blend of black and white through most of the school year. But as spring neared and planning began for the year's most anticipated event, the students were racially divided again.

This year's group of Turner County seniors didn't want that legacy. When the four senior class officers - two whites and two blacks - met with Principal Chad Stone at the start of the school year, they had more on their minds than changes to the school's dress code.

They wanted an official, school-sponsored prom. And they wanted everyone invited.

On April 21, they'll have their wish. The town's graying auditorium will be transformed into a tropical scene, and for the first time, every junior and senior, regardless of race, will be invited to a school-sponsored prom.

The prom's theme: Breakaway.

"Everybody says that's just how it's always been. It's just the way of this very small town," said James Hall, a 17-year-old black student who is the senior class president. "But it's time for a change."

Excited announcements of the upcoming dance are plastered all over the school, where about 55 percent of students are black and most of the rest are white.

Although the self-segregation that splits social circles at Turner County High is echoed elsewhere, there's a feeling that it's been intensified by divisive traditions.

Yet this school year, Turner County High started taking aim at some of those rituals. In the fall, it abandoned its practice of naming separate white and black homecoming queens. Instead, a mixed-race student was named the county's first solo homecoming queen.

And Mr. Stone has been eager to throw his support behind an integrated prom. He's using $5,000 of his meager discretionary fund to hire a DJ and buy decorations, and he has persuaded a photographer to snap photos of the couples before the dance.

Some alumni welcome change at Turner County High.

"People still think of how life was 20, 30 years ago," said Keith Massey, a 1990 graduate of the high school who now runs the popular Keith-A-Que restaurant. "And life's got to move on."

MIXING THINGS UP


The practice of separate, private proms for black and white students took hold in a number of Georgia counties after the end of officially sanctioned school segregation.

In recent years, school systems in some of those counties have sought to counteract the practice by sponsoring official proms for all students.


- Associated Press

Comments (2) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
fedupcitizen
0
Points
fedupcitizen 04/11/07 - 07:23 am
0
0
This article shocked me. I

This article shocked me. I had no idea this sort of racial split still existed. I was going into the seventh grade when segregation occured and although there were a few fights that were racial in nature that first year, we all settled down and accepted each other as classmates and friends. Now keep in mind I was raised in a small southern Georgia town. I commend this students for rising above this sort of racial behavior. There is good and bad in all races. We need to all learn to get along and look at each person for what's in their heart and mind not for their color. My class just celebrated it's 30th class reunion and there were probably close to 150 attendees of all races and it was a blast.

jkt
1
Points
jkt 04/11/07 - 12:12 pm
0
0
What ever, I went to a high

What ever, I went to a high school where the proms, homecoming queens and beauty pagent winners were segreated. And this was in the late 90's. I believe it should be up to the persons responsible for the event. If the school wants to hold a function for blacks & whites, let them. But if one groups wants thier prom to be a certain way and they raise their own monies, then so be it. We are to wrapped up in this diversity crap to see the big picture! Why is everything expected not worked for!

Back to Top
loading...
Search Augusta jobs