CHARLESTON, South Carolina — A South Carolina teenager made school history after being voted the first black prom queen in school history.
Amber Wilsondebriano is a 17-year-old high school senior at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, South Carolina, and proud co-founder of the school’s Black Excellence Society.
Wilsondebriano told ABC News that while being the first black homecoming queen comes with responsibilities, it also comes with a great sense of pride and honor.
“Being the first African-American prom queen means kids can look at me and see themselves in me,” Wilsondebriano told ABC News. “It’s so important that they see this representation and know that anything is achievable for them.”
The Porter-Gaud School, founded in 1867 as the Holy Communion Church Institute, is a private Episcopal school that became coeducational in 1972, the school told ABC News in a statement. The 1976-77 school year was the first time a student was crowned prom queen. The student body nominates classmates to the homecoming court who they believe demonstrate strong character, leadership and are positive role models, the school said.
Porter-Gaud School Principal DuBose Egleston, in a statement to ABC News, said Wilsondebriano is a wonderful example of a student who exemplifies the school’s mission.
“We celebrate Amber’s election as she joins the many remarkable queens we have had since our school became coeducational in 1972,” Egleston said. “We are fortunate to have Amber as a member of our community, and we are pleased that Amber and her family have had such a positive and meaningful experience during their 12 years here on our campus.”
Porter Gaud is a predominantly white institution, but Wilsondebriano said the school provides different opportunities for all students and she loved her 12 years at the school.
“Students can have a very positive experience, regardless of race,” Wilsondebriano said.
Wilsondebriano is an active member of his school’s community. She has co-founded many clubs, but told ABC News that the Black Excellence Society is of particular importance.
“We started this club at Porter-Gaud because we felt that black students needed a space to share their identity and culture with each other and learn more,” Wilsondebriano said.
Wilsondebriano said her parents were thrilled when she won the title of prom queen. She said her mother, who doesn’t usually cry, was moved to tears.
Her mother, Monique Wilsondebriano, told ABC News she always knew Amber was special.
“We’re proud of Amber, you know, Amber always had this light,” Monique said. “It’s just something special about her, and we all say it, we all see it.”
Wilsonbebriano’s father, Chevalo Wilsondebriano, told ABC News that this victory typifies what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. hoped to accomplish with his work.
“They chose her; people of her class, of her class chose her not for the color of her skin, but for the content of her character,” Chevalo Wilsondebriano said. “This is the type of achievement Dr. King was looking for.”
Wilsondebriano said she has many aspirations, including writing children’s books, modeling and acting, but painting is her passion. She plans to attend Savannah College of Art and Design in fall 2024.
When asked what she would say to her younger self, Wilsondebriano said she would say, “Your blackness is your pride.”