Congratulations are in order for Amber Wilsondebriano.
This fall, the 17-year-old senior at Porter-Gaud High School made history after she became the school’s first Black homecoming queen in 155 years.
On Oct. 17, Wilsondebriano told USA Today she was shocked when her peers at the Charleston, South Carolina-based high school voted to crown her the homecoming queen of 2023.
“When I was nominated, I didn’t feel confident I would win,” the legendary student said.
“However, throughout the week, many students told me they were voting for me. When the day came and my name was called, I was relieved and honored because I knew I was a part of history. I was elated the whole night. My peers made me feel special for the day.”
Homecoming night was a joyous occasion for the bright student who holds an impressive 4.66 GPA at Porter-Gaud High School.
“On Homecoming night, I took so many pictures with young Black children, and I want them to look at me and believe that this something that is attainable for them,” the 17-year-old told News 2 Charleston on Tuesday.
“It feels like finally I can give them some sort of dream and help them, even if I get to just stand here and wear a crown, it means so much more than just being the queen. My win is not just for me it’s for all of the younger kids,” she continued.
Wilsondebriano’s legendary homecoming feat is amazing considering the history of Porter-Gaud. Founded in 1867, the Charleston-based institution was first established as a Holy Communion Church Institute for white boys, according to the school’s website.
In 1874, it was renamed Porter Military Academy. Porter-Gaud moved to its present location in 1964 and inherited its current title, but the school remained segregated up until 1967 when it began admitting Black students. In 1972, Porter-Gaud began admitting female students into their Lower School program and eventually their Upper School program in 1975.
Today, Wilsondebriano is working hard to bring more diversity to the school.
Wilsondebriano co-founded Porter-Gaud High School’s Black Excellence Society, a club she created with a group of friends to provide a safe space for Black students on campus and to cultivate diversity.
“There are less than 10 Black people in my senior class,” Wilsondebriano told USA Today of the school’s sparse Black student population.
“When we have our meetings, every Black student in the school can fit in one classroom.”
In 2022, Wilsondebriano and five close friends proposed launching the Black Excellence Society to directors at Porter-Gaud High School. The young student — whose family originally hails from New York — said she has been overwhelmed by the school’s support of the initiative. “They funded catering for us and gave us a classroom to hold our meetings. I appreciate the school very much,” she said.
Outside of the Black Excellence Society, Wilsondebriano is the co-creator of Porter-Gaud High School’s first art club and the co-president of the Chinese Club. She was honored with the “seal of biliteracy twice,” News 2 Charleston noted.
Wilsondebriano will be attending the Savannah College of Arts and Design in the fall to pursue painting. She hopes to become an illustrator one day.
The shining student’s homecoming honor comes 50 years after Brenda Russaw McCrae was crowned as Marietta High School’s first Black homecoming queen in 1973 — almost a decade after the school was integrated, according to the Marietta Daily Journal. She was also the high school’s first Black cheerleader.
On Oct. 13, McCrae was given a beautiful bouquet and honored on the Blue Devils’ Northcutt Stadium homecoming court to celebrate her iconic legacy.
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