CORDELE, Ga. -- For the first time ever, students at Georgia's Wilcox County High School held a racially integrated prom this weekend.
Video and flash cameras sizzled as students stepped from limos and strode a red carpet Saturday night at the Crips County Community Clubhouse in Cordele, Ga.
Wilcox High School, like many Georgia schools of the past, is one of the last in the state to hold privately run, segregated proms because the school system does not sponsor any prom at all, WMAZ-TV reports.
That led to separate "white" and "black" dances and proms.
While traditional, it has made in recent years for some awkward, stinging moments:
- Last year, a biracial student was turned away from a white dance.
-This year the high school in Abbeville, Ga., finally allowed an integrated homecoming court, but the winner, Quanesha Wallace, wasn't permitted to attend the "white" homecoming party because she's black.
That prompted a group of students, including Quanesha, to end the divisions and organize their own integrated prom.
Keela Bloodworth said it only made sense because they were all longtime friends who grew up together: "We're basically siblings."
They got the word out with posters, organized a Facebook page and started putting on fundraisers. They encountered some backlash in town, and found a few of the posters ripped down.
But Saturday night, all the hard work paid off. They not only got a big turnout, many of the white students showed up for Saturday's bash instead of last week's "white only" prom.
"I just put my foot down," said one white student, decked out in an aqua prom dress that was color-coordinated with the bow tie on the tux of her African-American date. "I'm not going to go until everybody can be together."
Quanesha, her arm wrapped around a white friend, said with a big smile, it "turned out really well."
"I didn't even know this many people were coming, but I guess there was a lot of tickets being sold," said the Wilcox senior.
The national attention over the prom led to appearances by DJ's from Atlanta and Texas and attracted enough donations to fund some scholarships for seniors.
Principal Chad Davis has praised their students' efforts and says the school will discuss the possibility of a united prom in 2014.