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Sounds Like a Case for the Voting Rights Act


Roger Clegg writes about a Department of Justice investigation of racial quotas in a high school’s homecoming court. This took me back to my own high-school days, during the Carter administration.

In my junior year, the school fielded a varsity football team for the first time (yes, this happened in the United States), so they decided to have a Homecoming, even though nobody could explain who exactly was supposed to come home, or why. Through some unexplained process, the senior class’s ample supply of female beauty was narrowed down to six girls, and ballots were distributed to the student body.

Now, the school was about 30 percent black, and only one of the six candidates was black, so you can guess what happened. The black candidate (quite a looker, as I recall) won handily, and as far as I know, she represented her school admirably. But the school’s administration was hypersensitive about racial issues*, so the next year they changed the rules and awarded spots in the homecoming ceremonies through a system where you received points for participating in school activities. This eliminated whatever racial tensions may have resulted from the election system, but it also gave us one of the geekiest looking homecoming courts in the history of American education.

*They also had a program for a while where student DJs would play music in the cafeteria during lunchtime, but they abandoned it after a month or two because the white kids hated the black kids’ music and vice versa. I’m not sure if this would be as much of an issue today.