• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

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.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Franklin says:

    I think it got publicized just now because a mixed child didn’t know what to apply for.  I agree it was meant to be benign and in fact help blacks to get elected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    The South is riddled with bizarre anachronisms resulting from it’s history. I read somewhere the other day that MS only ratified the amendment giving women the right to vote (remind me of the number someone) in 1984!! The south resisted women voting almost as strongly as it resisted blacks voting. The south is definitely different.  

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. sam says:

    I would have explained the rule publically and said, we’re not changing it. Hey, it worked in Lebanon for a whole lot of years.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  4. [...] that its 2010? And to get lawyers. Or not bother with the lawyers and just stock up on lube. Whites-Only Class President Rule Ends at Mississippi School __________________ I'm a lawyer, but I'm not YOUR lawyer. Nothing I say should be taken as legal [...]

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  5. Anon says:

    Note that the previous policy rotated the races annually.  So it wasn’t that only whites could be ever be president, but that this year the presidents were supposed to be white, next year black, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  6. sam says:

    ” I read somewhere the other day that MS only ratified the amendment giving women the right to vote (remind me of the number someone – it was the 19th sam) in 1984!!”
     
    You think that’s bizarre, check out these states and the years of their ratification of the 14th Amendment:
    Maryland Apr 4, 1959; California May 6, 1959; Kentucky Mar 18, 1976
    Moreover, New Jersey’s ratification was rescinded on Mar 24, 1868; Ohio rescinded its ratification on Jan 15, 1868 and ratified again on Mar 13, 2003.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  7. floyd says:

    Race is a social construct and nothing more.  Had this been the alternate year, this article would not have been written in this political environment. I suppose some form of bigotry will always be seen from some point of view and denied by the supposed perpetrators, many times legitimately, right Joe?

     If this was in fact some attempt at affirmative action, it should have been obviated years ago….. but then racial set asides and affirmative action should have suffered the same fate at inception.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. The Q says:

    I know some (that means Floyd) will be quick to dismiss this story as a liberal over-reaction because we all know there isn’t any racism in the deep south, its all a figment of the yankee imagination but 5 years ago my then girlfriend got an invitation to her  20 year high school reunion in Georgia with this at the top of the invite: “whites only”….since it was being held at a country club which ahem, followed certain exclusionary practices.
    None of my California friends believed me until I showed them the invite and then they too were stunned that this kind of shit still exists in this country.
    But, our old pal floyd will vouch for the open mindedness of southern conservatives who truly are sean penn progressives and those stupid affirmative action policies were oh so hard on the repressed white majority.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  9. sam says:

    @floyd
    ” I suppose some form of bigotry will always be seen from some point of view and denied by the supposed perpetrators, many times legitimately, right Joe?”
    Does anyone know wtf that means?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. PD Shaw says:

    sam, I need someone to diagram that sentence.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. just me says:

    Honestly I think I am more surprised that it just now became an issue.
     
    When I read the headline my first thought was “surely not in 2010″ but then I realized the attempt was more at affirmative action than any real desire to only ever have whites be class president.
     
    I am mostly just surprised that nobody made an issue of it until now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. Craig says:

    So what, then? If they just had straight-up elections even though whites held a 3-1 ration over the highest minority population at the school (i.e. blacks), its likely those middle-school officies would have been held strictly by white students every year! The obvious intent was to insure some representation of more of the student body.

    As awkward as it was, it allowed greater participation. The black Principal and Assistant Principal seem unconcerned (20% of the school board is black too). And frankly, 30 years is a long time in our litigation-happy society for the parents of 25% of the school population to be content with an apparently horrifically racist embarrassment to their children.

    Unless of course, they realised that due to the large population differences between blacks and whites at that school, that this convoluted system was a way to assure fuller representation.

    Naaah, they were apparently too dumb to realize that they were being duped by their superiors, who are….er, umm, black themselves, in many cases. 

    So good! Now it is going to be straight-up elections. Hmmm, I wonder how the racial makeup of the next electees will be? I guess a lily-white student government will now be progress for you complainers?

    Good job!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. G.A.Phillips says:

     ***southern conservatives*** ? lol, Q, dumb racist crap is dumb racist carp,  sounds like original old school Democrat racist crap to me…..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. floyd says:

    the Q;
     Wouldn’t it be easier to just state your own opinions, rather than state your assumptions and attribute them to someone else?
     Nah, I guess not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. Bill says:

    They took turns in who could run.  One year Black, one year White.  They set up their own little internal Affirmative Action plan.
    It got picked up by the media and completely out of context.  Most did not even mention they took turns each year.  It was to make sure that everyone got a chance.  So now with a mix of 75 white to 25 Black…there will now likely be NO BLACKS elected.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1