Ruby Bridges was a childhood favorite of mine. She is known for being the first black child to desegregate the all-white school, William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Bridges was born September 8, 1954 in Mississippi. At the age of six she became the first African American child to integrate a white southern elementary school. Ruby Bridges had to be escorted to class by her mother and U.S. Marshals because of violent mobs. Even at such a young age, she paved the way for civil rights action.
With parents keeping their children home and no teacher willing to teach her, Ruby began to wonder if she would ever be able to attend class. Thankfully, one teacher, Barbara Henry agreed to teach her. The two sat side by side at desks for a full year working on Ruby’s lessons. As students returned, Ruby was not allowed to go to the cafeteria or recess with the other students. Her entire day was spent in the classroom.
So how does a child endure so much? How does a child endure threats to be poisoned or people showing up with little black dolls in coffins? A child endures through prayer and encouragement from her family. Because of her fearlessness we have books like The Story of Ruby Bridges, and the biographical film adaptation of her story as well.
Thank you Ruby Bridges for teaching us that at any age you can inspire change.
“Racism is a grown-up disease and we must stop using our children to spread it.”- Ruby Bridges
Enjoy these clips: