Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Charleston, Mississippi: Separate But Equal

Charleston, Mississippi is a town that was deeply segregated, historically affected by Klan activity, and was shielded from the Civil Rights movement in the South during the 1950s. With a population of around 2,000 today, and with influence from the outside being very low, the town is still trapped within the kind of time loophole devices found in Star Trek episodes.

For example, the town's high school has never had an racially-integrated prom night. I heard this story on NPR. Each year black students and white students have attended separate proms. A student interviewed said that it has been the parents who have imposed this "tradition" on the students, not the students who wish to be segregated. But, "that's the whole thing with our town, everybody's afraid of change," says the student.

Ten years ago, actor Morgan Freeman - who is from Charleston - said he would pay the school board to hold an interracial prom night, but the offer was rejected. When Freeman put the offer back on the table in 2008 (with a new school board in place and a documentary crew following him around) the Charleston school board eventually decided for change. Though a number of white families decided to hold the "white prom" anyway and prevent their children from attending the integrated prom, it should be interesting to see how this event transpired when the documentary, Prom Night in Mississippi, is released sometime in 2009.


15 comments:

K said...

Charleston is not a racist sesspool as you imply. If you were to actually visit the town you would realize that there is virtually no tension between blacks and whites.

Acumensch said...

I can see tension between black and whites in my own town. I don't need to go to Mississippi to prove a point like that. If racist parents have that much control over a school board, I'm sorry, but you live in bizarre place.

Anonymous said...

I graduated from charleston high school in 1998. The white students and black students get along just fine. We wanted to have our senior prom together that year but were unsuccessful, merely because of how things were done for so long. The white students parents were responsible for their prom and we (black students) were responsible for our prom. I think if the school board was involved we could have changed this a long time ago. But I am glad they finally had a prom together. It was long overdue. LNH Class of 98

de.borea said...

It is pretty amazing, thanks for sharing :)

Anonymous said...

How incredibly sad. The whole world is advancing in academics and technology. Instead of parents in Charleston, Mississippi battling for a first class education so that their students can compete globally, they fight to maintain small mindedness.

danielle614 said...

I cant wait to see this document either. Being raised virtually colorblind, this type of segragation has always intrigued me.

Samantha said...

Oh please. I graduated in 2001 from Charleston High School. I still live in Charleston and know many of the students who attended this prom. Most of the white students who went to the "white prom" also went to the integrated prom. The parents did not keep them from going. Morgan Freeman offered to pay for the prom not to pay the school board to have the prom. My graduating class got along just fine!!! You have some nerve posting something when you don't even know the facts of the situation.

utopiaorbust said...

The parents did keep some students from going, so, I think you just missed the point.

Anonymous said...

Bigot city mississippi FBI is investagating the sheriffs and police depts

Anonymous said...

i just watched the prom to those saying there are no racist in charleston you need to get your head out of the sand a picture is worth a thousand words to the kids brave enough to embrace change god bless you all stop the hate.............

Anonymous said...

Of course you people coming on here saying "I live here, everyone gets along just fine." Obviously they didn't teach the poor girl the meaning of the word "denial." Why else would there still be a "white only" prom?

Anonymous said...

It is heartbreaking to read the comments from kids, students, folks saying they are from Charleston or the surrounding region- Defending themselves, their village, living lives void of experience and ability to understand how deeply entrenched they are in the disease of bigotry. It is so much a part of their experience, they know nothing else, they are victims of the tyranny of hatred. The draconian, illiteracy of bigotry. The unfairness of this is staggering.

Anonymous said...

I just watched the documentary and liked it. I felt saddened to see someone make a comment about mixed children and that we were not intended to mix races. This is not something we need to teach our children and what of the children that are mixed? As a parent of a mixed child, it is my duty to teach her to embrace everyone regardless of who they are. I have lived on the West Coast and in the South and thankfully have not experienced the kind of narrow mindedness that was displayed by some of the parents. My husband did grow up in a small town in Mississippi.

Anonymous said...

I just sat and watched this. I was shocked to know that still in america its still racism. Why have two proms what is the point of that? I have my kids watching it also this is a part of history. For the people that lives there and say there is no racism there your lynin you can see if you watch this. One child would not even have his face shown, another child said a black girl threaten her and it wasn't true. The ones that are racist nothing will come of you. Wake the hell up and stop living in the dark ages. We are in 2011 and its time for you guys to take a stand. Thank you to the parents that said enough is enough hopes this keeps going til all the hate is gone from this small city. GOD bless your souls.

Anonymous said...

I have watched "Prom night in mississippi" Several times and I admire and respect the Black and white kids that were brave and had confidence to speak out about how wrong it is to be seperate. All the parents who are teaching their children to be racist and then go to church on sunday know who they are and like the young lady said in the film they have their ticket to HELL . The God of Creation is no respecter of persons and a God of Love not Hate! I hope that the town is still having intergrated proms and not going back to the narrow, ignorant thinking that so many of the parents have that did not want their children to go the the mixed prom.
The children are the future and need to know they can change that town if they stand together and think for themselves. In every race you have good people and bad people so you choose who you want to be in this world and when you leave this world what legacy do you want people to remember. Do you want it to be That you hated people or love every one and judge according to character and not the color of a persons skin.
It is 2012 and when we know better we should do better. Kudos to all the Seniors that made a change!