Eyewitness News at 6, 4-4-13

6:00 PM, Apr 4, 2013   |    comments
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< Did you ever think that you would have be doing this?  No (laughter) ... But since we are, we're gonna, we're gonna make a change...>

     White only proms... Are more than just a relic of days gone by.

     Tonight... racially divided dances... and what some students are doing to change that in the future... Is our top story on Eyewitness News at Six.

     Thanks for joining us,

     I'm Frank Malloy.

    And I'm Leah Johnson.   

We begin tonight... with a look at a tradition that's considered a rite of passage for lots of teens.     But in some school systems... not everyone has a right to go to prom, particularly where those dances are privately planned.

    Tom George traveled to Wilcox County today

...and joins us now in studio with more.  Tom?

     It sounds like something out of the history books, but in 2013 in Wilcox County, proms are still segregated ....That's because they're not organized by the school system, but hosted by private groups who feel they have the right to include or exclude anyone they want.

      But one group of friends decided to change that and plan a fun night for every student ... And in a short time, they're already getting some international attention.

< Finally got my dress yesterday? Really ... I ordered mine yesterday....>

 

These high senior seniors have grown up together since elementary school...

<we're basically siblings, we've spent more time together than anyone else>

 

But in Wilcox County, reminders of a past that brings painful memories for some.

<they always had the quote on quote white prom and the black prom >

 

It's one of the only counties left where dances are still segregated ... Only this year, Wilcox had an integrated homecoming court .. But after Quanesha Williams was elected queen, she wasn't allowed to the party because she's black

< Hearing from other students that I couldn't, they didn't want me to go, it kind of saddened my heart a little.>

< Now I'm sure you're wondering segregated proms are even allowed in the first place ... That's because in Wilcox County, technically, the school board has no control over them.  They're actually private events. It's the parents who created the separate white prom where black aren't allowed, and it's been going on for years.  >

 

So these kids are taking matters into their own hands ... Creating an integrated prom...

<they decided we're gonna plant our feel and we're gonna make this happen .. So they did just that.>

 

That means booking Dj's, making fliers... After hearing their situation, phones have been off the hook.

< We've got a guy that wants to donate LED lights .. It's amazing, beyond phenomenal right now.>

 

While they say they've met backlash from some in their hometown, they've seen support from around the world.

< Korea, London, England, Japan, Paris...>

 

Planning a night to remember ... And changing history in the process...

< Did you ever think that you would have be doing this?  No (laughter) ... But since we are, we're gonna, we're gonna make a change...>

Now a few Dj's have already offered to play at their prom for free ... And they told me around half of the white students in their grade have already signed on to their prom instead of the white only prom ... They say the school will sponsor proms again where there is only one integrated prom where all students are welcome.

     Thank you, Tom.

     In tonight's web poll... we asked you, if you think Central Georgia high schools should sponsor official proms, open to all students?

     60 percent of you think they should.

     40 percent of you say... No they should not have to.    

     Also ahead in this newscast... A world where color...isn't a consideration...was part of his dream and his legacy.

     Lorra Lynch Jones today...sat down with one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s speechwriters.     

     You'll see some of their conversation...ahead in about ten minutes.

     A Macon man accused of killing a woman and dumping her body in Houston County was denied bond today.         

      Brandon Davis faces a felony murder charge

     in the death of 26-year-old Chassity LaShundra Lester... who was found dead Tuesday.

     Tonight...we have new details from the arrest warrant.

       Austin Lewis has more on this story.

     I have a copy of the arrest warrant..which says Davis was "extremely" jealous.

      Lester and Davis have a three-year-old child together.

      But according to the warrant.... Chassity Lester was pregnant with another man's baby when she died.

     Lester's body was found in the woods around 4 Tuesday afternoon.

    According to the warrant...several witnesses reported that Davis told them Lester was found "dead...stabbed and raped."

      But he told them that..before investigators even found the body.

     The witnesses also said Davis claimed the Lester family told him about the murder.

     But according to the warrant....the family didn't know that Chassity was dead....until after 4 that afternoon.  

     Another piece of evidence...according to the warrant..Davis made calls from Lester's cell phone after she was found dead.

     The warrant says Davis was the last person to see Chassity Lester alive.

Thank you.

This afternoon...when the magistrate judge asked Davis whether he understood the charge against him....he shook his head.

So she scheduled a commitment hearing.

That's when prosecutors must explain the murder charge.

That's scheduled for April 18th.

   In another murder case.. .A Macon mother.. Charged after three of her four children died in a house fire.. Now has a 75-thousand dollar bond with conditions.

    Colethia Williams will not be allowed to have any unsupervised visits with any children.

     She can have supervised visits with her three-year-old son J'Lon...who is living with his grandmother.

     The visits are limited to no more than two hours a day.... three times a week at the grandmother's house.

    Williams will also have to provide a schedule of those visits to the District Attorney's office.

<david Cooke: Our main concern was her access to other children and being in a supervisory role, um we just didn't want the opportunity for something like this to happen again.

Sedghi:Mentally all she can focus on is her children and what happened and really J'Lon at this point  so she is happy to be able to get out and see her child.>

     Williams attorney.. said on the night of the fire... she was at her boyfriend's house about a block away... And was gone around a half an hour.

     But the District Attorney's office said because she lied to police... they don't know exactly how long she was gone or when she left.

     The CEO of the 21st Century Partnership.. Retired General Bob McMahon... Calls the relationship between base management and the local union... The number one threat to Robins Air Force Base.

     He says the two parties need to work out their issues... Or face dire consequences during the next round of base closures... or BRAC.

     McMahon says BRAC could happen in 2015... 2017... Or both.

     He told community leaders at the Museum of Aviation that the problem has existed for years... With little improvement.

     McMahon was careful to place blame on both sides.. Saying a small group of individuals on base and with the union are putting their personal agendas... Before the well-being of the base and the community.  

     He pointed to the number of grievances filed at Robins... And compared those numbers with the other two Air Logistics Centers in the U-S.

     Robins had nearly three times that of Tinker last year... And twice that of Hill Air Force Base.

<there is a better relationship between the base management and union than there is here. So, there is an ability to resolve the issues at a lower level, more effectively that perhaps were doing here at Robins. That's really a part of this. We have developed over the years a culture that for whatever reason isn't allowing us to do that to the level we need to. We have got to figure out how we can do this more effectively at the lowest possible level.>

     Union President.. Tom Scott.. agreed with McMahon in saying they need to get the number of grievances down.

     He suggested that base leaders look at the root cause of the grievances... And try to resolve the "hot spots."

     In a statement... Installation commander Mitch Butikofer said, "improving the lines of communication and cooperation with labor is an area where we can and must do better. We need a strong partnership based on trust and confidence.

     We welcome any opportunities to improve our partnership with the union so that we can continue to provide the cost-effective readiness our nation needs."

     Robins employs about 15-thousand civilians.

     Scott says the union has about 4-thousand members.

      In other news tonight, a chain reaction accident on Shurling drive took a chunk out of a chicken restaurant this afternoon.

      According to police... the driver of a food truck said he blacked out... and collided with an SUV driven by one of his family members.

      Then he struck a utility pole that landed on the K-F-C on Shurling Drive.

      Another driver... Regina Solomon... described the wild scene.     

<I was turning in here and this truck came in well I had to pull well he hit that pole well I saw the lights and wheels going everywhere.>

     There were no serious injuries... and Sartori Lyons, the truck driver, refused medical attention.

     He's charged with following too close and being an unlicensed driver. 

That's according to a news release from Macon Police.

     The K-F-C restaurant is missing a chunk of concrete from its front corner.

  45 years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down while on the balcony of a Memphis hotel.

    A man who knew him well, and even wrote speeches with King, is Vincent Harding.

    He's the author of "Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero." 

Lorra Lynch Jones sat down with him to talk about King's vision for America.

< Vincent Harding talks about race, class and democracy in our country and how the legacy Dr. King relates to that.  >

 

    Tonight at the Grand Opera House... You can attend a forum hosted by Harding.

    It's a free event.. And starts at 7 p.m.

   Harding will take questions from the audience and encourage conversation about race and class relations.

Good economic news tonight.

A company that manufactures wood pellets for energy....plans a 115 million dollar plant in Wilkinson County.

That's according to Jonathan Jackson...the county's development director.

The company....the Enova Energy Group of Atlanta...will manufacture the pellets from yellow pine in Gordon...ship them by train to Savannah...and then to European markets.

He says the plant should employ about 65 people....and create more than 300 spinoff logging jobs.

Enova plans to break ground in May or June.

We could not reach Enova for comment.

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