Ruby Bridges is a civil rights icon who, at the age of six, became the first African American student to integrate an all-white elementary school in the South.
Born in Tylertown, Mississippi in 1954, Ruby Bridges was the eldest of eight children. Her parents worked as sharecroppers on a plantation, and Ruby often helped with the family’s cotton crops.
In 1960, the Bridges family moved to New Orleans in hopes of finding better opportunities. That same year, Ruby’s father lost his job and her mother became ill, so Ruby had to start working to help support her family.
Despite these challenges, Ruby excelled in school and was chosen to participate in a program that would allow her to skip two grades.
In November 1960, Ruby’s name was drawn as one of a handful of students who would integrate the all-white William Franz Elementary School.
On her first day of school, Ruby was escorted by four U.S. Marshals as angry protesters shouted insults and threats at her. Despite the hostile environment, Ruby persevered and completed first grade without incident.
The following year, Ruby Bridges became the only African American student at her school when the other families who had been chosen to participate in the integration program chose to send their children to other schools.
Ruby continued to face racism and discrimination throughout her time at William Franz Elementary, but she did not let it deter her from getting an education.
In 1964, Ruby’s family moved to a predominately white neighborhood in New Orleans, and she enrolled at a new school.
Ruby Bridges graduated from high school in 1971 and went on to attend the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. She later married Malcolm Hall and they had two sons together.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton awarded Ruby Bridges the Presidential Citizens Medal, one of the highest civilian honors that can be bestowed upon a U.S. citizen.
Ruby Bridges is now a civil rights activist and speaker who travels across the country sharing her story and inspiring others to stand up for what they believe in.
Ruby was a little girl who was one of the first black children to attend an all-white school. Her father did not want her to attend the all-white William Frantz School because he feared that enraged individuals wanting to maintain blacks and whites separate would harm his family if she went there.
But, Ruby’s mom insisted that Ruby go to the all-white school. She believed it was important for her daughter to get a good education. So, despite her husband’s protests, Ruby Bridges went to the William Frantz School.
When Ruby arrived at the school, a group of angry parents kept their children home rather than have them go to school with a black student. Some of the parents who did send their children to school shouted hateful things at Ruby as she walked past them each day.
But Ruby didn’t let the hateful words and actions of others stop her from getting an education. She continued going to school every day, even though she had to walk past angry protesters by herself.
Ruby’s strength and courage in the face of hate inspired other black students to integrate all-white schools across the United States. Thanks to Ruby Bridges, all children, no matter their skin color, can attend the same schools and get a good education.
All Ruby’s mother wanted was for her to have a good education and successful future–things that had eluded her own life. Her experiences were so difficult, even when pregnant carrying ninety pounds of cotton on her back, that she only wanted an easier life for Ruby.
When Ruby was six years old, she had to start working in the fields. She worked from sunup to sundown.
Even though it was hard for Ruby’s mom, she still wanted her daughter to have a good education. When the time came for Ruby to go to first grade, there were no schools for black children in New Orleans. The only school that would accept black students was William Frantz Elementary School, an all-white school.
On November 14, 1960, Ruby Bridges became the first African American student to attend an all-white elementary school in the South. It was a big deal because up until that time, segregation had been practiced in many states across America. This meant that white children and black children went to different schools, used different bathrooms, and even drank from different water fountains.
Segregation was finally outlawed by the Supreme Court in 1954, but many people in the South continued to practice it. Ruby Bridges’ parents knew that sending her to an all-white school could be dangerous, but they wanted her to have a good education.
On Ruby’s first day of school, she was escorted by four U.S. marshals. A group of angry white parents had gathered outside the school to protest her attendance. They shouted horrible things at her and called her names. Some of the parents even pulled their own children out of the school rather than have them attend class with a black student.
Ruby was a brave little girl, and she continued to go to school every day despite the protests. She didn’t let the hateful words of the protesters get to her. Ruby Bridges is now an adult, and she continues to fight for what she believes in. She is an important part of American history, and her story is an inspiration to us all.
She recognized that if her child attended William Frantz School, his or her life would be considerably better. Some white people threatened to administer poison and cause harm to Ruby if she enrolled at their institution. Her father lost his job because his employer believed someone should not work for him if his black kid was going to an all-white school.
Despite all of the threats, on November 14th, 1960, Ruby became the first African American student to attend an all-white elementary school in the South.
The family had to move from their home and live with Mrs. Henry Hezekiah, one of Bridges’ mother’s friends, because of all of the death threats that they were receiving. The FBI even placed agents outside of their home and William Frantz School to make sure that Ruby made it there safely every day.
Every day when Ruby walked into school, she was faced with a crowd of angry white parents who would yell and call her names like “nigger”. Even some of the students would spit on her or kick her as she walked by. Ruby was only six years old, but she had the courage to keep going to school even though it was really hard for her.
Because of Ruby and other brave students like her, African Americans started to gain more rights and equality. In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed which made it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their race. And in 1965, Ruby’s father finally got his job back.
Thanks to Ruby Bridges, today we have much more equality and diversity in our schools. She is a true hero who fought for what she believed in despite all of the hate that she faced.