“I believe that anything that’s associated with a school should not have the distinction or discrimination made based on race or gender or any other separation,” he said. “But it appears to me that the parents and students have worked that out on their own, as they should.”
The AJC’s Greg Bluestein asked Gov. Deal if there is anything he could do as the state’s top leader to help prevent the issue of segregated proms from surfacing again.
Gov. Deal said, “Probably stay out of their way.”
And the governor continued:
“We’ve come a long way in the state of Georgia. We don’t need things like this being divisive. We think we have put most of those issues behind us. None of us condone things that would send the wrong message about where we are with regard to race relations. But by the same token, I think that people understand that some of these are just local issues and private issues, and not something that the state government needs to have its finger involved in.”
While we commend Gov. Deal for adding his voice to this important national news story, we strongly disagree that issues of civil rights and equality are “just local issues and private issues.”
As one Georgia native once said, “I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
We applaud the teens in Wilcox County who looked at the world around them and knew it could be better. We need more leaders like these across the state.
And, finally, we pray that 2013 will be the last year that segregated proms are held in Georgia.