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Smearing the South: Group Attacks Georgia Governor for ‘Segregated Proms’

Of course, the state had nothing to do with them. But the narrative succeeded.

by
Mary Grabar

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May 8, 2013 - 12:00 am
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Much money can be made and political power gained by presenting the South as a bastion of pre-Civil Rights Jim Crow. This is what the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center), a non-profit with an unsavory past and dubious finances, does. As Charlotte Allen pointed out recently in the Weekly Standard, they bank on rich, elderly Northeastern donors who still think of the South as the place of segregated drinking fountains.

The reality is far different. Fulton County, which seats Atlanta, has a work force that is 83 percent black. The county’s racial makeup is 48 percent white and 45 percent black. But those attempting to change this politically red state into blue look for white “racism” under every rock and in every Republican heart (especially those of rural Georgia residents).

This is evidently the strategy of a new group called Better Georgia, an affiliate of ProgressNow. One of their recent actions was a scolding of Governor Nathan Deal for not making enough executive appointments of color. However, at Georgia Unfiltered, Andre Walker looked at the diversity of Better Georgia itself. He wrote that while the group lectured in its email — “Tell Gov. Deal that we want executive appointments to reflect what Georgia really looks like — appointments that are diverse and bring together people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and genders” — it turns out that Better Georgia’s executive director, political director, and officers are all white.

Better Georgia went after Wilcox County High School’s private “proms,” which have reportedly been segregated. They publicly pressured the governor to make a statement on the issue. Their goal is stated on their web page:

We take important issues like civil rights and equality and we package them in a way that are (sic) easy to digest on Facebook, Twitter and email. We translate important progressive values into narratives that generate headlines and increased click-through rates.

On the prom story, the liberal press complied: the news about “institutionalized segregation” was covered in the UK by the Daily Mail, and predictably the New York Times bit, running several articles on the issue.

This was not a new topic for the NYT: In 2009, they ran an article titled “A Prom Divided” about the supposedly segregated prom at Montgomery County High School. However, Principal Henry Walding told me that he had no knowledge about a segregated prom, but that the school sponsored its first prom this year. He called it “highly successful.”

CNN inadvertently revealed that the Wilcox prom was much ado about nothing. Wilcox County High School itself did not sponsor the proms.

An NBC news report mentioned that the prom went off without a hitch, although they did remind readers of the narrative: “Almost half a century after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed racial discrimination in schools and other public places … ”. An April 26 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article noted: “The idea of the integrated prom was born out of a racial healing project spearheaded by Harriet Hollis, a coordinator with the Southwest Georgia Project for Community Education.” However, an internet search reveals only a Facebook page for the non-profit.

It turns out the kids were able to have their own prom with only a little bit of help from the grown-ups, including donations, some brought in by Wilcox High alum Melvin Everson, a former Republican state representative. Peach Pundit reported that Everson, appointed by Governor Deal as executive director of the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity, had called for local funding of the prom. The student group announced on Facebook that it had met its goal by April 5.

The success of the prom seems to be an argument for keeping government out of such affairs. Yet liberal media continued to present the situation as evidence of racism long after the money had been raised. ABC News announced: “Georgia Teens Fed Up With Segregated Proms.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution education writer Maureen Downey called them “apartheid proms” as she cited Better Georgia — though noting that at Turner County High School, both white and black students had  segregated themselves at their private “proms”.

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Top Rated Comments   
Ironic. When I was at University of MD there was a black group lobbying the school to build a Black Student Union, they wanted "seperate but equal" and I thought that flew in the face of everyhthing the Civil Rights movement stood for.

The other part is that this group engaged in intimidation of other black students to further their goals. One day I was walking through the Student Union and observed some members of this group handing out flyers for their cause. One member approached another black student who was carrying food purchased at the Student Union and knocked the food from his hands onto the floor ruining his meal. He then proceeded to call the black student a sell out, Oreo, Uncle Tom, and a host of other names while ranting at this poor guy. The student was obviously intimidated by the demonstrater and ran off. This was my first intorduction to how blacks who go "off the Plantation" are treated the Leftist establishment. This was 22 years ago.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (24)
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One piece of history the Southern Poverty Law Center tends to ignore, is the rampant racism in the north. I am a proud EX yankee - proud to live in and celebrate the South with all its Goods and Bads. The "N" word and anti-Semitic sentiments were a daily fact of life in New York. There were people arming themselves to kill all the"N". Jews were deeply hated by many. You had big segregation in towns, schools, and churches. After 11 years here in GA, I fail to see the deep hatred and level of distrust in blacks and Jews that I personally saw in New York. My conclusion is that there are elements in power that want to crush the South because it's one of the last battlegrounds for liberty in the US. By the way, do a search on www.newsday.com. A very interesting story was published there a decade ago about how black people were leaving NY in droves for - where?- Why GA of course! Anyone who believes the pure unadulterated lies from the communist SPLC deserves their chains.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
SPLC NEEDS racial tension or they would have to fold. If they don't get it, they will create it This IS the MO of the left.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"If they really cared about the kids, they would have donated money and done honest work."
That right there is why we will always win when the chips are down. The other side does not wish to spend their own money, and labor is beneath them.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"wretched excuse foer a columnist Mary Grabar is."

naturner apparently does not understand that "ad hominem attacks" refer to personal attacks. I have to wonder about about anyone who discusses any topic or position without manners.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What a wretched excuse for a column this is and what a wretched excuse foer a columnist Mary Grabar is. Fully half of this tripe is unsubstantiated ad hominem attacks on Better Georgia and the SPLC. Have Wilcox High's proms been segregated? Grabar doesn't say but tries to change the subject to whether or not they were officially sponsored. So what? Why is that important? Nobody said they were. The question is why the governor refused to condemn the obvious racism until it blew up in his face. Grabar is so disinterested in the facts of the case she doesn't even bother to question the town's white parents have financed segregated proms since 1971. Why Ms. Grabar, if not for their racism? Why did a good many Georgia high schools discontinue official proms at the time they were being forced to desegregate thei classroom, if not to prevent inter-racial socializing? She quotes the new principal of Montgomery High saying he doesn't know about segregated proms as evidence the NY Times had it wrong. But the Atlanta Journal Constitution did what Grabar couldn't be bothered to do - check - and confirmed it. Same with her wholly dishonest dismissal of an unrelated charge by Better Georgia that the governor's political appointments were racially discriminatory. They are. Just 7 percent of his appointments have been of African Americans in a state that is 1/3rd Black. But our blithe Ms. Grabar can't be bothered with the facts. She cites - bizarrely - the African American population of metropolitan Atlanta and, - really bizarrely - Better Georgia's alleged racial make-up as proof they're wrong. Never let mere numbers get in the way of a good lie, eh Ms. Grabar? In the end we learn much more about Mary Grabar's ugly ethics and racial politics than we do about the important issues raised by this case. It says nothing good about PJ Media's journalism stardards that they would run such trash.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The real Nat Turner hung and so should you. This isn't about government action; this is about private, individual action. Why in Hell should a governor be expected to interfere or comment on individual action. This Country hasn't a prayer until some idiot lefties are eliminated. You're too stupid to live.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Perhaps you've never heard of the concept of "fredom of association". The Proms are privately funded, thus the school has 0 input. If the kids choose to segregate then that is what they've chosen right or wrong.

If you're so concerned with segregation why not looby for the dissolution of the NAACP? Black Congressional Caucus? How about a host of other organizations, awards, etc. that are linked to skin color?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's easier to dehumanize and make people hate and discount your opponents as invalid than it is to actually win an argument on the merits of your position. This is one lesson the left has learned all too well.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ironic. When I was at University of MD there was a black group lobbying the school to build a Black Student Union, they wanted "seperate but equal" and I thought that flew in the face of everyhthing the Civil Rights movement stood for.

The other part is that this group engaged in intimidation of other black students to further their goals. One day I was walking through the Student Union and observed some members of this group handing out flyers for their cause. One member approached another black student who was carrying food purchased at the Student Union and knocked the food from his hands onto the floor ruining his meal. He then proceeded to call the black student a sell out, Oreo, Uncle Tom, and a host of other names while ranting at this poor guy. The student was obviously intimidated by the demonstrater and ran off. This was my first intorduction to how blacks who go "off the Plantation" are treated the Leftist establishment. This was 22 years ago.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Before I read the article; Let me guess:
It was an all white group being called out because they were all white.
White people better start standing up for themselves, or they're dooming themselves to indentured servitude.
Racism and discrimination is not owned by any race that claims it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Actually, the people pointing the fingers were all white.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Haven't I read recently about blacks demanding and getting segregated dorms at some of our institutions of "higher learning"? What has been the left's response to this phenomena?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That's different!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Proms were pretty segregated when I went to truly segregated schools in Georgia in the '50s and '60s; segregated into those who could afford the clothes and cars and those who couldn't. The real hypocrisy is that Atlanta is almost totally segregated. If you live south of "Sweet Auburn" you can go your whole life without ever having personal dealings with a white person. Likewise if you live in most of the northern and eastern 'burbs, you'll never have to have personal dealings with a black person except maybe at work. Since the neighborhoods are segregated, the schools are segregated except for recruitment of star athletes bringing some blacks into otherwise lily white schools in afluent neighborhoods and some well-off blacks who choose to live in majority white areas.

The rural areas are different; a small town will have only one public high school and it will likely be majority poor and black. The whites who could afford it long ago took their kids out of the public schools and home-school or have them attend church or private academies. About the only exceptions are some of the whites with political ambitions or who hold office and some children of white teachers. A few years back my sister taught elementary school in a county near one of the counties mentioned in this article and she had no white students in her class.

The government can legislate all it wants and leftists and poverty/race pimps can bleat and wail all they want but fundamentally, black people and white people don't like to live together. It is easy enough to be all enlightened and racially "sensitive" when you have some blacks in your workplace who have about the same background and education you do. It is a very different thing when you come from totally different cultures and blacks have been on a half-century or more campaign to make everything about black culture as different from white culture as possible. The irony is that in the Jim Crow world of my youth, whites and blacks moved easily amongst each other so long as the facial rules of segregation were observed. The water fountains at the courthouse were marked "White" and "Colored" but you thought noting of drinking from the same bucket with the same dipper when working in the fields. Today, blacks and whites have almost nothing to do with one another except where forced together by work or government edict. I still have some property in my home town, the community could use some decent rental property, and I have the wherewithal to build a rental complex, but I'm not. I know that should I build an apartment building, the NAACP will send a Black to rent a unit as soon as I put it on the market, and from that moment, I'll have to rent all of my apartments to Blacks, which I won't likely be able to do unless I go for the Section 8 market to start with, and I don't want "slum lord" on my resume. As Faulkner said, the past isn't dead, it isn't even past. If anything, it is more alive than ever.

The lefties are right about one thing though; there is a Democrat opportunity not just in Georgia but throughout the rural South because the rural areas and even the secondary cities are becoming majority Black. When my HS graduating class were in our peak earning years, 30s and 40s, there were only a handfull of us living in our hometown and county; the rest were scattered all over the Country. A few that held on to family property have come back "home" with retirement but most will never return, I among them. I was visiting an old friend who's an attorney and an elected official. He took me in his new Navigator out to the golf course subdivision he was building. While I was waiting in his office I'd noticed the lead story in the local weekly was how pleased and proud the county government was that the unemployment rate had dropped to only 12% - this some years ago when the National rate was maybe 5 or 6%. As we toured his fancy new subdivision I noted that the contractor was from Florida and almost all the labor was Hispanic. I asked him how he, an elected official, could get away with that. He replied, "they don't care, they have their welfare check and their house in the project." True that!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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