U.S. girls who organized integrated prom to see Winnipeg museum exhibit

By on September 25, 2014

Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Photo by Ovahlordx / Wikimedia Commons.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Photo by Ovahlordx / Wikimedia Commons.

WINNIPEG—A 19-year-old who last year helped organize her Georgia high school’s first racially integrated prom will come to Winnipeg to see her dress in an exhibit at the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Mareshia Rucker and three other students at Wilcox County High School in Rochelle, Ga., made international headlines when they decided to buck their school’s longstanding tradition of separate proms for black and white students.

All four grew up as best friends; Rucker and Quanesha Wallace are black while Stephanie Sinnot and Keela Bloodworth are white.

Their story caught the eye of Matthew McRae, the researcher and curator for the “Inspiring Change” exhibit at the newly opened museum.

He was looking for something to illustrate the civil rights struggle and his first thoughts were of Martin Luther King Jr., but the museum wanted a more current display.

He travelled to Georgia to speak with Rucker, her friends and her family for an oral history and came away convinced she would be perfect for an exhibit about inspiring change.

“Her desire to make the world a better place is really strong,” said McRae. “Not only could she envision that better world, but she could also decide to take action in it.”

Rucker was giddy with excitement Tuesday to learn that an online fundraising campaign would allow her, Wallace and Sinnot to travel to the museum along with Rucker’s mother and grandmother, adding it is “surreal” to think that her dress is going to be in a museum.

She said racism “still runs really deep” in Georgia, noting that while about 200 students attended the integrated prom, many others still chose to attend an invitation-only prom for whites.

Still, she said she was blown away with the success of the party and the international attention it drew.

“It was phenomenal,” she said. “I was so happy.”