The Confederate flag served as an official symbol of the national division that overtook America from 1861 until 1865 — but for some, the imagery is still worthy of invoking.
But the divisive nature of the flag, which is a reminder of the U.S.’s Civil War and an era of slavery, often creates problems for those who choose to display it. An 18-year-old high school senior in Tennessee learned this the hard way when she was turned away from her own prom due to her dress’ purported Confederate design.
Texanna Edwards was reportedly warned months before the prom by a teacher that the dress may not be appropriate. In fact, she was even told that she should clear it with the principal first. So when she arrived at her prom without having obtained clearance to wear the outfit, it’s no surprise that educators declined to let her in. Officials in the Gibson County Special School District, which has reported race-relations issues of late, dubbed her dress “offensive and inappropriate.”
But while educators found the design off-putting, Edwards claims no one at the prom she spoke with had a problem with the dress.
“We asked why they thought that, but they kept saying the same thing over and over. We kept asking people walking inside — black and white — and everyone said they loved it,” Edwards told The Jackson Sun. “Two black women even went off on the principal. They were upset with the principal. No one was upset with me.”
The Gibson County school district, though, maintains that the student was warned beforehand and that, by forbidding the outfit, the school was simply doing its due diligence.
“She was told because of the dress and what it would look like, it would be considered inappropriate. She had talked with the prom sponsor and they told her it would be inappropriate. … I feel like [the principal] followed legal precedents set by other court cases,” explained Eddit Pruett, the director of schools for the district. “Students have legal rights, and we don’t infringe upon those. But we have to follow legal precedents, and if there is a reason to believe something could happen, we don’t wait until after the fact to do something.”
According to Kim Lee, the teen’s mother, a total of $500 was spent on Edwards’ hair, make-up, dress (which was custom-made) and her date’s clothing. While school officials said that the girl could go home, change and come back to the prom, she chose not to.