A prom delayed – It's prom season in Birmingham, Alabama, and this year some senior citizens are joining the high school seniors. Here, Earnestine Thomas waits to get her hair done on Friday for her Class of 1963 prom.
A prom delayed – When Earnestine Thomas was a teenager, she knew she had to live by a different set of rules than white teens. "As a child, I recognized that it was unfair, but didn't understand that there were laws propping (segregation) up," she said. Here, she gets her hair done for the prom.
A prom delayed – Today, much has changed in Birmingham and this year, the city is marking the anniversary of its civil rights movement, which affected the entire nation. As part of its "50 Years Forward" celebrations, Birmingham sponsored the prom that was canceled in 1963 for five black high schools in the midst of the city's civil rights struggle.
A prom delayed – Eugene Arms, another member of the Class of 1963, gets his suit ready for Friday night's prom. Arms said he attended civil rights rallies in Birmingham as a teenager, but not the pivotal Children's March, when hundreds of children, some as young as 6, left school to march in opposition to segregation. Authorities responded with fire hoses and dogs. "All we did was give up prom," he said.
A prom delayed – Ethel Arms gets dressed for the prom. Eugene and Ethel were high school sweethearts.
A prom delayed – Boutwell Auditorium is all decked out and ready for the prom to begin.
A prom delayed – Classmates pause for a moment of prayer before the prom.
A prom delayed – An ice sculpture greets the participants as they enter.
A prom delayed – With her hair done and a new dress, Earnestine Thomas arrives in style. She said she can still picture the dress that she never got to wear in 1963, a long blue and green neon attention-grabber that showed different colors in the light as she moved. "Even though it was a winter dress, I was going to wear it to the prom," Thomas said. "But in one fell swoop, that was wiped away."
A prom delayed – A photographer captures the special moment.
A prom delayed – Eugene and Ethel Arms pose for their prom photo.
A prom delayed – Bishop Calvin Woods addresses the attendees.
A prom delayed – The prom was a celebration of what the Class of 1963 had endured and survived over the last 50 years. "As we get older, everything behind us looks greater," Earnestine Thomas said.
A prom delayed – Attendees enjoy a feast.
A prom delayed – The music included songs by Aretha Franklin, Etta James, The Temptations, just what you would expect at a 1960s prom. But the song that drew the most bodies to the dance floor was "The Wobble,"
a hip-hop number with an accompanying line dance.
A prom delayed – Shirley Holmes Sims poses with her prom date.