Georgia Governor Decides Support For Integrated Prom Is A ‘Silly Publicity Stunt’

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal scoffs at notion of integrated prom; image  @CreativeLoafing

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal scoffs at notion of integrated prom; image @CreativeLoafing

April has been designated as Confederate History Month. Apparently this is because Confederate Memorial Day – honoring those who died fighting with the Confederate army to preserve slavery for the southern states – is also in April. So during this lovely, spring month of blooming magnolias and LL Cool J/Brad Paisley odes to accidental racism, southerners make a show of Celebrating Racists, Traitors And Slavers, as my colleague, Justin “Filthy Liberal Scum” Rosario so bluntly detailed in his piece on the topic. I’m sure they celebrate a great many other, less controversial, things – key lime pie, mint juleps, Cajun music, the warm heart of southern people – but, really, when one thinks of the Confederacy, it’s hard to go anywhere but slavery and racial animus.

I bring this up because a story I wrote earlier this month – Rejecting Racism: Georgia High Schoolers Demand Their First Ever Integrated Prom – has popped back into the news as the governor of that great state of Georgia, Nathan Deal, made a repugnant show of not only refusing to endorse the big-hearted efforts of a group of high school girls organizing the first EVER integrated prom at their high school (I know… impossible to believe, but read my story on it – you’ll be stunned!), but doing so in a sneering, disrespectful way.

After publicity on the girls’ efforts to raise money for the integrated prom at Wilcox County High School began to gain traction (our piece here hit an incredibly viral nerve), a progressive group in Georgia (apparently they do have progressives in Georgia), Better Georgia, got wind of the story, contributed one of their one (with the moving title, Wilcox County students offer redemption for Georgia), and followed up by sending a letter to Governor Deal appealing for his support for the girls and their mission statement of an integrated prom, citing a number of other Georgia politicians from both sides of the aisle who’d already endorsed their efforts. This was Governor Deal’s response:

His spokesman, Brian Robinson, said Deal would have no response to a liberal group’s call for state officials, including the governor to speak out.

He wrote, “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.” [13WMAZ]

Nice.

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So, instead of acknowledging the bipartisan support for the girls and getting on board – if nothing else to show that, during Confederate History Month, a Georgia governor could do the right thing and speak loudly against the continuing legacy of racism – Governor Nathan Deal and his side-kick Brian Robinson thought it better to issue a sneering denunciation of a group actually bringing parties together to right a longstanding wrong in their state. How visionary! How evolved! How… southern.

Dressed up and ready to day; @WSAV.com

Dressed up and ready to day; @WSAV.com


Which leaves the four, feisty Wilcox County girls – Keela Bloodworth, Stephanie Sinnot, Mareshia Rucker and Quanesha Wallace – to keep stepping up to get the job done. Where these girls got their “gumption” is hard to fathom. This is a cultural environment where, despite the Supreme Court decision on segregation handed down in 1954 (it’s unconstitutional), this town and school has NEVER allowed an integrated prom. Given that precedent, it’s remarkable that two black women and two white, friends since the 4th grade, could stand up against hate, entrenched racism, and the sloppy anachronism of culture caught in a time warp. But they did… and as the bigots tear down their prom signs, they just keep putting them back up.

And now, it seems, they also have to stand up against the governor of their home state.

But no worries: they’ve got a burgeoning league of Georgia supporters, including Melvin Everson, a former Republican candidate for labor commissioner who was born in Wilcox County and is now helping to raise money for the prom. They’ve got the very proactive Better Georgia. And they’ve also got a growing Facebook page where you can show your support in both comments and donations.

Nathan Deal? Well, the prom’s coming up… April 27th. Not much time to change his mind. So while the kids are having a good time despite his ignorance, he’ll likely just slap on a “good ole boy” hat, grab a cold julep, let that Confederate flag flap in the warm Georgia wind, and listens to Lynyrd Skynyrd… while the sounds of culture evolving slowly, but inexorably, ring all around him.


LDW_AI

 

Follow Lorraine Devon Wilke on Twitter, Facebook and Rock+Paper+Music; for her archive at Addicting info click here; details and links to her other work: www.lorrainedevonwilke.com.