Caleb and I went to see "Prom Night in Mississippi" last night here on Delta State's campus. If you don't know what the movie is about, here's a short synopsis:
Until 2008 (the year I graduated high school), Charlston High School in Charlston, Mississippi (where I have family) had two seperate proms...one for white students and one for black students. Somehow or another, Charlston resident Morgan Freeman got wind of this and thought it was "the stupidest thing [he] had ever heard of". He proposed to the senior class, if they had an itergrated prom, he would pay for it. The movie chonicles the students lives planning and attending thier firts intergrated prom.
The film was about what I expected. Having lived in Mississippi almost my entire life, the attitudes expressed by students, faculty and others are ones that I have heard my entire life. Parents and grandparents holding on to the past, faculty afraid of change, and students who as young adults, are just starting to formulate thier own ideas about race and equality. Most students in the film, along with most people my age I know in Mississippi, are moving past the racism, fear, and hate. With each passing generation, it seems that race is becoming less and less important and young people treat other equally.
BUT for some reason, after Mississippi's long and torrid past with civil rights and inequality, most people in Mississippi, young and old, feel it is ok to discriminate against people based on thier sexuality. A lesbian in Ittawamba, Mississippi wanted to bring her girlfriend to prom, and she was told she couldn't. The administration went on to cancel the school sponsored prom and allowed parents to hold a prom to which Constance was not invited.
I have to ask myself; Where was Morgan Freeman?
Why is no one in Mississippi supporting her rights? Why are her civil and equal rights not as important as black students? Why is a racially segregated prom throughly shunned but one segregated based on sexual orientation perfectly fine?
Well, it's not. I am ashamed that things like this happen all too often in my wonderful state. The young people need to face this challenge head on. Now that my generation has placed blacks and whites on the same playing field, it's time to do the same for the LGBT community.
Because whether you like it or not, gay rights=civil rights. The same civil rights we denied blacks for so long, we are denying to gays. And I think everyone is Mississippi should be ashamed that something like this could happen.
Here is a way you can help.
You're never going to believe this story.
First this Mississippi school board canceled prom because a senior girl wanted to take her girlfriend. Then they organized a 'fake' prom (five students attended), while the rest of the students went to a secret prom organized by parents.
I just signed a petition to stand with Constance -- and condemn the school board's failure to treat its students with the respect and fairness everyone deserves.
It's got to be pretty lonely to be in Constance's shoes. She didn't set out to start a fight in the courts or in the media. All she wanted to do was go to prom.
Join me in letting Constance know we're supporting her.