BLACK VOICES
05/02/2013 05:17 pm ET

Birmingham Prom: 50 Years Late Class Of 1963 Gets To Dance

Alamy

Earnestine Thomas didn't attend her senior prom before graduating in 1963 from Birmingham, Ala.'s A.H. Parker High School -- there wasn't one.

She had planned on attending with friends and wearing a fancy, neon-hued dress that glittered in the lights. Senior proms and other end-of-school-year activities in Birmingham's "colored" schools were canceled in 1963 after thousands of children, many of them of high school age, took to the streets to protest segregation at the height of the so-called Children's March (also known as the Children's Crusade) in early May.

Although their marching helped change a segregated South, the black youths' activism brought consequences: rides in a police wagon, lockups in a Birmingham jail and elimination of some privileges.

On May 17 at the city's Boutwell Auditorium, the Class of 1963 will finally get to have its prom. Alumni from about 10 formerly "colored" high schools are coming together with the help of the city of Birmingham to put on the event. The price of admission -- $19.63.

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