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Prom is racially integrated as one Georgia county leaves a barrier behind

Wilcox County in Georgia will have an integrated prom for high school students Saturday, after years of separate events for whites and blacks.

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For one Georgia county, this is an end-of-an-era moment, a night when high school students can attend a racially integrated prom.

On Saturday, students of all races from Wilcox County High School will party and dance together, after years of separate proms for whites and blacks.

[Editor's note: The original version of this story wrongly stated that the integrated prom would be the county's only one.]

In that county, as in some other parts of America’s South, separate proms – organized privately rather than by public schools – have lingered for decades, long after schools were racially integrated.

But in an era when young Americans widely accept and embrace the idea of dating and marrying across racial lines, it’s a tradition that’s steadily fading out.

About 15 percent of all new marriages in the United States in 2010 were between spouses of different race (or ethnicity, in the cases where Latino and non-Latino unite). That number, drawn from Census records and reported last year by the Pew Research Center, compares to 6.7 percent of new marriages in 1980.

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