Georgia’s GOP governor won’t take position on whites-only proms

Georgia’s Republican governor, Nathan Deal, refused a few days ago to take a stand against whites-only proms in his state by endorsing a local school district’s first-ever integrated prom.

As we’d reported a little over a week ago, a group of students – some black, some white – are organizing their school’s first “integrated prom” this year, and not getting any support from their high school, and little from their fellow students.

Wilcox County High School in Rochelle, Georgia lets its students and parents organize their own prom, which means every year they get a racist whites-only prom (the stories have been unclear as to whether the black families are able, or willing, to organize non-white prom). Last year, the police reportedly removed a biracial student who tried to attend the “whites-only” event.

colored-only-drinking-fountainGeorgian officials have been oddly silent in speaking out against this vestige of slavery that some in the Georgia public schools seem to still be embracing.  GOP Governor Deal outright refused to take a stand this past week against the whites-only prom, and instead the Governor’s spokesman blasted those who asked him to take a stand against segregation of the races in the state’s high schools: “This is a leftist front group for the state Democratic party and we’re not going to lend a hand to their silly publicity stunt.”

Maybe it is a liberal group, I have no idea.  But would Governor Deal refuse to take a stand on pedophilia if the people asking him for his position were “leftists”?

And what Republican leaders call a “publicity stunt,” black students call their civil rights.

As for the school, they seem to be expressing shock on their Web site that people around the country are so upset about the students holding a whites-only prom:

Recently the high school has received some negative publicity for hosting segregated proms, but that is simply not true. The high school does not host a prom at all, and groups of students who host private parties have referred to the parties as their proms. The school sytem has no influence over private parties, but we are encouraged by recent events.

Earlier in this school year, a group of ladies approached the Wilcox County Board of Education and the Superintendent to discuss their plans for hosting an “integrated prom.” The Board and Superintendent not only applauded the idea, but passed a resolution requesting that all activities involving WCS students be inclusive and non-discriminatory.

We support the efforts of these ladies, and we praise their efforts to bring our students together.

I am pleased to report that WCHS Principal Chad Davis has stated that his Leadership Team will place the 2014 Prom on its agenda for a meeting in the near future.

Instead of attacking our school system, its employees, and our community, we ask for your support and prayers as we seek to right the wrongs of the past and be the adults our children look up to.

Right. How odd that we’re a little peeved that you’re righting the wrongs of segregation nearly sixty years after the Supreme Court integrated our nation’s schools. I mean, better late than never. But don’t expect a medal for suddenly figuring out, and only after facing withering national and international criticism, that your school’s de facto, if not de jure, policy of having whites-only proms is a problem.  What was your first clue?

This is why people have a problem with the South. It’s the reason  a lot of us worry that the South is still a hotbed of racists and bigots.  As for the GOP, it’s also why so many of us have left the Republican party, or refuse to go there in the first place.  It speaks volumes to the concerns young people – but really a lot of us – have about the Republican party when a GOP governor refuses to take a position on segregating the races in public schools and arresting black children for attending “white” proms. Amazing what goes for “controversial” nowadays in the GOP.

At the very least Governor Deal knows he’s in charge of a racist state and thus is afraid to speak out against racism lest he lose the racist vote, aka his Republican base.  At the worst, Governor Deal is himself a traditional southern racist who believes that whites-only proms are not only good, but to be encouraged.

Either way, it’s little wonder that the Republicans are having a hard time winning over Latinos, blacks, gays, women, youth and anyone with an IQ higher than their pulse when a GOP governor is afraid to take a stand against something as simple, and obvious – and noxious – as a school holding a whites-only prom.

With such profiles in courage, one wonders what Republican governors think of slavery (though we now know that Mississippi, as of four weeks ago, is officially “opposed.”)

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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