This year hasn’t been a great one for Southern racists: first the practice of segregated proms in Wilcox County, Georgia came to a halt and now the spotlight is on segregation at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
According to ABC News, alumni and students prevented two African-American women from pledging to any one of sixteen sororities. Adding to the inherent negativity surrounding the move, one of the students has been found to have both excellent grades and a strong familial legacy of public service – including ties to the University of Alabama itself.
The one good piece of news to be found is that the university and organizations related to the relevant sororities are investigating these incidents. An article from The Crimson White, a campus newspaper operated by students, goes further in depth:
Like other black women before them, these two students tried to break what remains an almost impenetrable color barrier. Fifty years after Vivian Malone and James Hood became the first black students to desegregate The University of Alabama, there remains one last bastion of segregation on campus: The UA greek system is still almost completely divided along racial lines.
With each passing year, the University falls further behind other universities in terms of greek integration. The Crimson White reported in 2012 that other large Southern universities, such as Auburn and Ole Miss, have integrated their greek systems to a further extent than the University.
“People are too scared of what the repercussions are of maybe taking a black girl,” Gotz said. “That’s stupid, but who’s going to be the one to make that jump? How much longer is it going to take till we have a black girl in a sorority? It’s been years, and it hasn’t happened.”
These allegations, should they prove true, will surely be a well-deserved and big stain on the University of Alabama’s reputation unless taken care of as soon as possible. Sadly, these allegations so far appear indisputable.
Although segregation was formally ended in 1964 with the introduction of the Civil Rights Act, a key piece of civil rights legislation, some states have been notoriously slow to act. This case is another shocking example of how following passage of the Civil Rights Act, many schools in the United States south continued to skirt the system however possible.
Thankfully, despite modern conservative insistence that racism in America is a thing of the past, students of the University of Alabama appear to have a decent grasp on the racial issues ongoing at the school. Now that the problem is being directly confronted by students, organizations, the school and media alike, many are becoming hopeful that 2013 will be remembered as another step forward, albeit far too late for Alabama.