Whites-Only Class President Rule Ends at Mississippi School
A rule allowing only white students to run for class president at a Mississippi middle school has been quickly changed after the Internet brought attention to it.
MSNBC (“Miss. school reverses race-based rules for student elections; Under former policy, blacks could not be class president“):
The school board in Nettleton, Miss., voted Friday to reverse its policy under which race determined whether a candidate could run for class positions, including president.
According to a memo sent home with students last week, African-American students could not run for class president in Nettleton Middle School this school year. However, the board voted at an emergency session Friday to drop that policy, according to Craig Ford, a reporter with the NBC News affiliate WTVA, who attended the meeting.
According to the district’s statement, reported by WTVA, the practice had been in use for more than 30 years with whites and blacks rotating among offices annually.
“It is the belief of the current administration that these procedures were implemented to help ensure minority representation and involvement in the student body,” the statement said.
As bizarre as it seems, the intent was doubtless benign. As Joanne Jacobs points out, the school’s principle is black and the school “is 74 percent white and 26 percent black.” The intent, rather clearly, was to ensure that at least one black officer was elected per class.
I’m not sure what’s more interesting: That this has been going on for “more than 30 years” and people are just now complaining or that it was started 30-odd years ago. Presuming “more than 30″ doesn’t mean “almost 40,” that means this policy started in the late 1970s — years after official segregation ended.
Then again, I was slightly befuddled that the Alabama high school from which I graduated in 1984 and to which I transferred in 1980 had a “minority” spot in the Homecoming Court. A black girl could theoretically have been elected Homecoming Queen, since there was no rule that she be white (Yes: In those days, it was presumed she’d be a she and have always been one) there was a guarantee that at least one would be represented. Since we never had more than one or two black girls in our class, it was rather surreal.