Georgia conservatives just couldn’t figure out why we should care.
Some said we were late to the parade. The governor’s office called it a ‘silly publicity stunt.’
But the truth is that we know the world is watching our state.
We know this is a time to stand up for civil rights and equality. We know that however Georgia reacts will become a part of our international reputation.
Tonight, a group of students — encouraged by their parents — will once again gather for a “private” event where only white students are invited to dance.
This morning, the Toronto Star published a 2,300-word article about Georgia’s racial legacy. The article is titled, “Black and white — and grey.”
The reporter called Better Georgia to ask what we think about tonight’s white-only private dance and the efforts of four teenagers to host an integrated prom next Saturday.
Here’s what Canada’s largest daily newspaper published this morning:
Not everyone is willing to let Wilcox off the hook so easily. Bryan Long, executive director of Atlanta-based political progressives Better Georgia, said the controversy now stands as the most visible vestige of segregation-era South.
“The students who want to uphold and defend white proms as ‘separate-but-equal’ tradition weren’t alive in the 1970s,” said Long.
“I don’t think they fully grasp why separate proms exist. They were a hate-filled and spiteful way for white parents to rebel against desegregated classrooms. The attitude was, ‘You can make us go to school together but you can’t make us dance together.’
“We don’t want to apologize for Georgia. But as important as tradition is … we need to stand up and not let a very small minority of people with racial hatred speak for us. It’s incredibly brave, what these girls are doing. And a great opportunity for us to tell the rest of the world we’re leaving that legacy behind.”
Imagine if Gov. Nathan Deal or any of our elected leaders told the world that Georgia is finally moving beyond white-only proms.
Instead, Gov. Deal took three swings at making a public statement and in the end, all he could say is “it appears to me that the parents and students have worked that out on their own.”
Pay attention here. Gov. Deal said that the parents who supported the tradition of white-only private parties for decades have worked this out even as the segregated prom goes on tonight.
And he goes on to say, “I think that people understand that some of these are just local issues and private issues.”
Gov. Deal is wrong. Tonight’s white-only dance is no more a private and local matter than were private white-only water fountains.
In 2013, Gov. Deal’s “private and local” defense of segregation is inexcusable.
From where we sit, this is a complete lack of leadership on an issue that will determine how the world sees Georgia. This is a lack of leadership on an issue that will have an impact on which businesses will invest in Georgia.
We intend to keep Gov. Deal and all of our elected officials honest and accountable to you and all Georgia voters.
We cannot do this without your support, though.
Please give $5 or more right now to invest in our mission. Give $5 to make sure we can continue to stand up for basic civil rights in every Georgia county.
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