Debutante ball facing accusations of racism

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - An East Tennessee debutante ball is battling accusations of racism. The organizer says it's because of an article in Sunday's paper.

In an article about the Dogwood Ball, it lists three criteria young women must meet in order to be considered: They have to be sophomores in college, unmarried and white.

"Frankly, I was taken aback," says public relations executive, Cynthia Moxley.

Moxley expressed that shock on her blog.

"I'm a big believer in Knoxville and I'm concerned that someone from here or someone that's not from here would read that and make a judgement about what kind of community we are," says Moxley.

Anne Trent is the president of the East Tennessee Presentation Society who sponsors the ball. Trent is the one who gave the paper the interview and says she was just as shocked as anyone when she read the article.

"I wouldn't want people to think I felt that way," says Trent.

It may be her name next to the words, but Trent says they're not hers.

"I did not say that because that is not in our bylaws. There is nothing in our bylaws to say that," says Trent. "They are chosen for just being outstanding girls in their school, their church, athletics."

So while race may not be an issue at the Dogwood Ball, Moxley says it's still an issue that deserves a conversation.

"The fact that so many people are willing to be a part of the conversation shows that it's a topic that people care about," says Moxley.

Trent says recommendations are submitted to a committee. The committee chooses which women to send an invitation to. Trent says race does not play a factor.