Justice Dept: High School To Stop Racial Preferences In Selecting Homecoming Courts

August 4, 2012

The U.S. Justice Department has reached an out-of-court agreement with the Escambia County School District in Alabama to end the use of race-based selection criteria for homecoming courts and other student activities in two of the district’s high schools.

Escambia County High School in Atmore permitted students to elect two homecoming queens and two homecoming attendants from each class, one African-American and one not.   Another school, W.S. Neal High School, had a similar longstanding practice of using race-based criteria for election of students to its Valentine’s Day courts.

To resolve the U.S. Justice Department’s concerns over these practices, the Escambia County (Ala.) Board of Education voluntarily adopted a district-wide non-discrimination policy for extracurricular activities.   The policy will end the use of race-based election and selection criteria in all student activities.   The agreement requires the district to fully implement and enforce its new non-discrimination policy, to notify parents and students of changes to student election practices and to provide compliance reports to the department for at least one year.

“This Board policy may change certain past practices or procedures relating to the election or selection of students to extracurricular positions,” Superintendent Randall Little said in memorandum to parents.

“We commend the Escambia County Board of Education for acting swiftly to abolish the use of race in student activities and to ensure that no student is denied participation in any extracurricular activity based on race,” Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez said.   “It is time for the once common practice of segregating students by race in school activities to come to an end.”

The use of race-based selection and election criteria in public schools’ extracurricular activities, including homecoming courts, proms and similar activities is prohibited by Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars public school districts, colleges and universities from discriminating against students on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion.

Pictured: Escambia County High School Freshmen Maids during the school’s homecoming parade last October. NorthEscambia.com file photo, click to enlarge.


41 Responses to “Justice Dept: High School To Stop Racial Preferences In Selecting Homecoming Courts”

  1. whatever on August 8th, 2012 6:54 am

    What the problem is….that u got a school that is ran by blacks and is 90% black then what is your homecoming queen gonna be black…they can say whatever they want about race..believe me just wait it will speak for itself they cant keep teacher or any other race at that school. Thats what they should be worried about not some stupid homecoming court.

  2. Just Trowing This Out There Proud Parent of Kids In A Different County!! on August 8th, 2012 5:44 am

    Nope moral of this story there will now forever be a Miss Black Queen or NAACP will be called with Law suit!!! THE END

  3. MM on August 7th, 2012 3:33 pm

    So, no 2012 Ms. White Homecoming Queen and 2012 Ms. Black Homecoming Queen?

  4. ragin cajun on August 7th, 2012 11:54 am

    This is so dumb. This is how my schools homecoming court looked like, 1 or 2 genuinely good students, those who made good grades and were pleasant people. The rest were smoking hot cheerleaders and dance team members, because if your going to parade girls around like prized cattle they should be something worth looking. In the group were about 2-4 African Americans out of 12 girls which was about the same ratio as the student body as a whole ~30%, they made court for the same reasons the other girls did, being hot. Needless to say I think things have changed since the civil rights movement. It’s the 21st century; we’re on to body image and other sociological injustices now.

  5. mikebee on August 6th, 2012 9:52 pm

    Matt W- I do believe that the selection of the homecoming queen is during football season so it does have do with sports. I’m a Black man that grew up in the south so waiving the race flag for me is not an excuse but mere facts. I don’t speak from a standpoint of hatred or resentment toward anyone, I just call a spade a spade! I was a standout football player in high school who received a Div 1 scholarship and started all four years of my career. In high school having a black queen was the icing on the cake for black players who made white coaches look good by scoring touchdowns. I don’t know what bubble you live in, but race does matter whether you choose to believe it not. I worked as an executive operator and race was the determining factor when securing contracts. No hatred just facts!

  6. Confused on August 6th, 2012 9:19 am

    Homecoming queen has always been a popularity contest. All of the comments that particular schools will not have a white/black queen explain how this problem started in the first place. If the whites won’t select a black queen and the blacks won’t select a white queen, then the racial divide in the schools is still well established. Someone has got to lose in all of these contests. Hopefully race doesn’t have anything to do with it.

  7. Miller parent on August 6th, 2012 8:54 am


  8. Bill on August 6th, 2012 8:33 am

    What about the Hispanic queen? Sounds racist to me.

  9. Not so speechless on August 6th, 2012 6:23 am

    *Throws hands in the air and leaves conversation.*

  10. matt w on August 6th, 2012 5:46 am

    Mikebee- this is not an opportunity to start waving the race flag.. This was about a homecoming queen, not scoring touch downs or baskets or making playoffs.. which is a ridiculous accusation… because white students can’t play sports?… I think this will be fair and promote equality instead of giving students a avenue to segregate each other. Stop being so selfish, not everyone has a radical mind filled with hatred and resentment!

  11. mikebee on August 6th, 2012 1:26 am

    If schools were being fair then African-Americans would not have to fight for laws to be passed. Bottom line in the south race does matter I think we still should have a Black and white homecoming queen. On most of the higher paying jobs in the south you do not see many African-Americans working there, because African-Americans are always kept out of the loop. As a Black man I was told to go to college and I did just that and got a Masters degree but my education still was not enough simply because I was black. Now what we are going to see is that mostly white schools will almost never have a black homecoming queen so they should have left it the way it was. As long as African-Americans can score touchdowns and make 3 pointers for the schools they are fine. Don’t forget whose winning these games for these schools, black athletes are. So African-American athletes at these high schools should be honored with a queen of their own race.

  12. Not so speechless on August 5th, 2012 10:06 pm

    I still think the right decision is one school = one queen. Can someone tell me how and when this town came to accept a racially defined standard for two queens. Just the facts please.

  13. barb mccoy on August 5th, 2012 8:32 pm

    Joy to the World, Atmore, AL get ready for a true Homecoming Queen, since I believe 1969.

  14. David Huie Green on August 5th, 2012 2:02 pm

    “this was not racism folks – - – It was yet another tool used to let some groups get what they want.”

    It was a tool to let some groups get what they want based on race. Actually, that IS racism, making decisions based on race rather than some other decider. When you tell someone she is the best of her race, you are insulting her. She may not realize she is being insulted, but she is.

    I don’t really care other than the part that we are all part of the same island, but at least we could be honest with ourselves.

    David for the redheaded,
    bucktoothed cross-eyed queen
    (if they’re going to have multiple queens
    with varying criteria)

  15. mnon on August 5th, 2012 9:54 am

    I don’t care which group asked for what, I think it is ridiculous that it has to come to this. I agree with another commenter, let the teachers decide based on merit, grades, citizenship, contribution to the community, extra curricular etc. But the I guess NAACP would be called on the school if a white girl got it for more than 1 year in a row.

  16. bobby j on August 5th, 2012 8:53 am

    The practise was intiated by the african american faculty/students who wanted a black queen. Not by the white caucacian. Therefore this was not racism folks by a “good ole boy”. It was yet another tool used to let some groups get what they want.

  17. Bob on August 5th, 2012 6:42 am

    Just wish ole Archie Bunker could run for president..He would fix things like this.

  18. joe on August 4th, 2012 11:47 pm

    wow only two queens? and one has to be black?
    that seems so unfair to everyone else…
    I am sure the homosexual boys would like to have a queen, as well as all of the other races not mentioned.

    seriously, this is not 1960!
    get with the times, what kind of message does this send to students of all people.
    Racism will never end in this country until all races are seen as equal.
    this is america, try to act like it. this is an embarasment (as well as my spelling) to the community. treat the kids the same and they will treat each other the same.

  19. Not so speechless on August 4th, 2012 11:36 pm

    Wow. Comments about civil rights causing racial strife and all black vs all white royalty are shocking to read. It sounds as if your community wants segregation to remain firmly in place as it did in the “good ol’ days”. It sounds as if you would like for each race to “know its place”. The world is bigger than Atmore, Alabama, folks. Would you like to see this article on national news networks? Embarrassing.

    We have not come very far as a nation if this is the discussion about an article stating that segregation in this matter is over almost 50 years since it was ended by our FEDERAL government. The students are never going to learn racial equality in this environment. Sad. Just sad.

    How sad it will be to find next year’s royalty “honored” with this attitude. Swift action, indeed.

  20. mnon on August 4th, 2012 9:08 pm

    Am I missing something here? Why can’t ANYONE who wants to go out for homecoming queen go out for homecoming queen… let the student body decide who that queen will be, and only pick one. Is it because most schools who are predominantly black will only pick a black person, or predominantly white schools will only pick a white person? What about Asian American, Native American, Latino (and it is Latino for those of you saying “Mexican Americans”), etc. are they all excluded? Doesn’t this perpetuate racism, or does this “fix” racism by saying all black kids can vote on their favorite black student and all white kids can vote on their favorite white student for those positions? You make a rule for blacks and whites, you will have to add all the other races too in my opinion. So now we’ll have 5+ homecoming queens so everyone gets a “fair” chance at being the popular vote?

    It all sounds lame to me and unfair to all other minorities… this all goes back to entitlement and giving all kids rewards for participating so no one feels left out. I remember when I was in school if you lost, you lost, period, there were no rewards for trying/participating, ie citizenship, honor roll, field day, homecoming court etc. I thought the majority were past all this race junk. I’ve lived in the south all my life and I have friends of all shapes, sizes, religious, sexual preferences and ethnicity… we are human beings and one day maybe all this inbred southern racism on both sides will be bred out of everyone. But not if local, state and national offices keep perpetuating it.

    Don’t worry the direction public schools are going in about 5-10 more years it will all be done online and then no one has to worry about homecoming court and Valentine dances.

  21. mom on August 4th, 2012 6:17 pm

    I think the decisions for homecoming attendants and queen should be decided upon by the teachers…they should be judged on their character, grades, responsibility, helping others, and their mayurity level…they should be free of any disipline problems etc…this way the judging should be fair and not left up to friends or individual races.

  22. Just Trowing This Out There Proud Parent of Kids In A Different County!! on August 4th, 2012 4:37 pm

    Let me just throw this out there I also went to ECHS whites have been the minority at that school for years sad thing is these idiots think they have solved a problem they made a bigger one from now on if a black doesnt get home coming queen the naacp will be called and lawsuit started cause whites are being unfair look out white girls even though you may deserve to get homecoming queen you wont ever have a chance if you attend ECHS!!

  23. David Huie Green on August 4th, 2012 3:04 pm

    Two Queens?

    Makes perfect sense.
    Why not have 53 queens so more get to be queen?

    David extending the ridiculous

  24. wsn on August 4th, 2012 2:26 pm

    I went to WSN from K-12 & race was never a problem b/c there was about the same amount of whites as there were blacks, there were very few hispanics that I remember. Most everyone got along, there were a few ‘clicks’ but was never really a problem. We only chose 1 queen, but there was 1 white & 1 black attendant for each grade. To me that was fair so no one was left out, I wouldn’t call it segragating. If it were where you only choose one person for each grade, it’s always the ‘most popular’ or ‘most beautiful’ person that wins & to me that is unfair but today everything is about race & it shouldn’t be.

  25. matt on August 4th, 2012 2:13 pm

    People, listen to yourselves. This is not about black and white, it’s about little girls wanting to be homecoming queens. We should not care if these young ladies are black or white. These “southern district schools” are racially profiling these young ladies, and I agree it should have been stopped many years ago. If the white girl wins woohoo, if the black girl wins woohoo. Either way please stop being so narrow minded. Ephesians 4:32

  26. Bama Girl on August 4th, 2012 12:12 pm

    @ Lisa
    This didn’t start in the 90’s! It was taking place in the 80’s when I was in school. It gave an equal chance to black and white girls. Whites won’t have that chance now. Hope they make me eat my words!

  27. Moved Away from Atmore on August 4th, 2012 12:08 pm

    There will not be another white homecoming queen at ECHS now. I can promise you that. Atmore has become another Prichard. It used to be a lovely town. It won’t be again.

  28. Dennis HE Wiggins on August 4th, 2012 12:04 pm

    I graduated from atmore in ‘91, and as I recall the “two homecoming queens” didn`t start until after then. We ALL voted for OUR homecoming queen – race didn’t matter. The changing to a two-queen system was another of those ridiculous “politically correct” startegy some moron came up with. It seems the Esc. Co. BOE is FINALLY getting its comeupance. They have been called out for other ILLEGAL acts, too.

  29. Lisa on August 4th, 2012 11:41 am

    Some of you assume that 2 queens were picked so that an african-american had a chance. That is not the case here. The white population is far outnumbered by the non-white population (african-american, native-american, hispanic, chinese. Etc.). And, this has not been taking place since the 60’s. More likely it has been since the 90’s.

  30. Mike on August 4th, 2012 11:40 am

    Why this is still going on is a matter of history but since the topic is here anyway, this would be a good time for those confused, unsure or unaware of why its still continuing to look back in the history books and learn these situations weren’t created in a bubble/vaccum, they’re the result of segregation and jim crow laws put in place by the white majority that just have continued over the years in little towns all across the south, not just Alabama.

    This is the basis for the difference between Republicans = state rights and the power of local communities to continue to marginalize and discriminate against people and Democrats = federal rights. They want a stronger role for the federal government in deciding state and local community issues because left to their own devices, the states have proven again and again that they’ll do the WRONG thing.

    This is a classic example of that, a nearly 50 year law in place and the State of Alabama with its Republican Governor, Republican dominated legislature and school board needs to be sued by the federal government before they do the right thing. Preceisely why so many Democrats aren’t ready to believe states, particularly southern states can get the job done when left to their own devices.

  31. obviously on August 4th, 2012 10:57 am

    obviously you people aren’t that intelligent. Them acting swiftly is since this came up with the justice dept. Since they were asked to change it – not since 1964

  32. Jes on August 4th, 2012 10:47 am

    “Next year, when its all white the county will still get to go to court. Theres no way to win this battle”

    I highly doubt that will happen in ECHS. I would be very surprised.

  33. MIKE O. on August 4th, 2012 10:19 am

    I guess we still live in a world where everything is either black or white. I thought we had moved past these issues, but apparently not. But black and white is better than rainbows!

  34. Just sayin on August 4th, 2012 9:23 am

    Next year, when its all white the county will still get to go to court. Theres no way to win this battle

  35. A student on August 4th, 2012 9:20 am

    This is stupid. Why should it just be African American? Why not just any minority? This is racist to Mexican American’s, Natvies American, and any other America minority. Surely, selecting two people for courts just to be sure someone of color can get it is more raceist than letting the kids choose who they like best. This give an unfair advantage to some student and makes it even difficult for other students.To make color an issue when doing these school events is causeing more segragation. This is not the 70’s. EVERYONE IS ALREADY EQAUL.

  36. Gus on August 4th, 2012 8:52 am

    I am a native of the Atmore area. I moved away several years ago because of the racial problems and high crime. It is ashame. What the civil rights movement did was to create even more division between whites and blacks.

  37. Thinker on August 4th, 2012 8:49 am

    @ dad: Very good point. Commended for acting swiftly? 1964 this was made law?
    This reminds me of a short (and old) video by Bill Cosby where he plays a bigot. Maybe it’s on the web. In the end, the bigot has gone down the list of everyone he doesn’t like until he realizes how few bigots there are left….just two…and he doesn’t like the other one.

  38. LorenB on August 4th, 2012 8:41 am

    About time they did something about this, notice where I graduated from high school, T.R. Miller, was not in this article. That’s because for as long as I can remember, the picking of the Homecoming Court and Queen is left up to the students with no preference/rules to race, as it should be. At Miller there are 2 attendants from each class and one queen.

  39. 429SCJ on August 4th, 2012 7:58 am

    It is good to see change. I know that as Atmore has intergrated, many white famalies have left Atmore for rural areas.

    The same thing happened in Cordova Park, Mayfair, Avondale, Cresent Lake, Brownsville. People just don’t want to live in peace and happiness next to their neighbor, I can’t imagine why, so very sad.

  40. Uh huh on August 4th, 2012 7:22 am

    The reason Atmore did this for so long is because a non-black don’t stand a chance of getting picked.

  41. dad on August 4th, 2012 5:43 am

    The article states…

    “We commend the Escambia County Board of Education for acting swiftly to abolish the use of race in student activities and to ensure that no student is denied participation in any extracurricular activity based on race,”

    Then goes on to say…

    The use of race-based selection and election criteria in public schools’ extracurricular activities, including homecoming courts, proms and similar activities is prohibited by Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

    And their commended for actly swiftly?

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