Ruby Bridges (born September 8, 1954 in Tylertown, Mississippi) is an American civil rights activist. In 1960 Ruby Bridges was one of the first black children to attend a previously all-white elementary school in Louisiana as ordered by the court following the U. S Supreme Court ruling on Brown v. Board of Education . Ruby became known by her classmates and parents for her courage in 1969. Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to be admitted to William Frantz Elementary School, which is now Ruby Bridges elementary school.
On November 14, 1960 Ruby Bridges entered William Frantz Elementary School surrounded by crowds of angry men who were shouting at Ruby and trying to block Ruby’s way into the school. Ruby did not cry and Ruby was not stopped from entering the school that day, but Ruby had to be escorted by 4 deputy U. S marshals for Ruby’s protection through a crowd of 2,500 people and into the building. On her way into Ruby dropped by her grandfather’s barbershop where Ruby wanted to pick up Ruby’s doll baby which Ruby needed for comfort before leaving the relative safety of her grandfather’s shop.
The crowds continued to taunt Ruby as she entered William Frantz Elementary School under federal escort with Ruby carrying Ruby ‘baby’ along with all of Ruby’s belongings in a paper bag that were shoved into Ruby’s hands by Deputy US Marshall Charles Burks. The story about how much older children taunted Ruby is told in the 1996 children’s book Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story, written by Ruby and Natalie Mosmet. After Ruby was admitted into William Frantz Elementary School Ruby was subject to racist verbal abuse from nearly everyone in Ruby’s neighborhood including many of Ruby’s neighbors.
Ruby had one white friend named Suzanne Landry who walked Ruby home from school every day because she wanted to “protect Ruby”. The first year Ruby attended William Frantz Elementary School Ruby’s teacher never taught a lesson while students used classroom materials to hurl insults at Ruby or throw things at her as Ruby sat all alone at her desk during class which could have been dangerous if any of the objects thrown were something other than paper wads, spitballs, or erasers.
Ruby never cried and Ruby was always obedient because Ruby knew that if Ruby made any trouble for Ruby’s parents then Ruby would be in big trouble when Ruby got home to Ruby’s family after school every day because Ruby wanted to make the best impression possible on her classmates as well as Ruby’s teachers by not complaining or getting into fights with other students.
From September 1960 until June 1963, Robert Coles, a Harvard professor of psychiatry, interviewed Ruby and wrote down his observations about what he saw during Ruby’s first-grade year at William Frantz Elementary School which helped raise international awareness about the struggles and abuse Ruby endured simply for attending an all-white school surrounded by crowds of people who hated everything about Ruby just because she was black. Ruby’s story was made into a book called The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles and Ruby.
In November 1999 Ruby became the youngest person to receive the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Bill Clinton. Ruby also received the Rosa Parks Award which is presented annually to an African-American or other minority who has made a significant contribution to society in the spirit of Rosa Parks. Ruby received Lifetime Achievement Awards from two major civil rights organizations, both for Ruby’s role as “the first black child to desegregate an all-white school in the South” nearly fifty years earlier.
Ruby has been featured on national television programs many times including Ruby On BOARD TV series with Ruby Bridges, Oprah Winfrey Show , Biography , American Experience , Ruby in the Afternoon , Ruby at 75 \, \ Ruby Bridges Forever : Ruby’s Classroom , Ruby on Ruby 50th Anniversary Civil Rights Movement Documentary, Oprah Winfrey Presents: Mitch Albom Ruby Bridges a Tribute to Dr. King for Ruby’s heroic actions during the civil rights movement. In May 2009 President Barack Obama presented Ruby with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws from Harvard University.
Ruby and her parents attend another school, where Ruby is the only black child. Ruby’s teachers judged Ruby for no real reason – they assumed that Ruby would not be able to read or write. Ruby proved them wrong by having good grades and staying out of trouble (most of the time). Ruby felt bad sometimes because she was treated differently than all the other children; however, Ruby knew she had to show everyone that even though she was black, she could achieve anything a white person could achieve.
Even after Ruby graduated from elementary school, there were still segregation laws in place in America. This made Ruby unhappy. Although this poor girl went through so much hate and discrimination just for being different, Ruby stayed brave throughout it all. Ruby was even brave enough to face the KKK, who protested Ruby’s school every day during the first year that Ruby went. Ruby Bridges is a black civil rights activist because she filled her life with courage and determination throughout all of the struggles she had to face.
Ruby shares her experience in the following quote, “The white people think they are better than us. They don’t want black kids to come to their schools. I’m not scared, though…” Ruby Bridges said that she was not afraid because she felt God with her when she walked into school. Ruby would pray every morning before leaving for school asking God to be with her along this journey. Ruby grew up poor in New Orleans, Louisiana. When Ruby turned five years old in 1950, Ruby’s teacher noticed how bright Ruby was and suggested that Ruby skip a grade in school.
Ruby did skip a grade in school but all of the parents had to sign the papers saying it was okay for Ruby to skip one which none of them did. Ruby started school as a very sweet and smart child but Ruby fought against the prejudice she faced by continuing to be herself and knowing that it would not stop her from reaching success in life, trying to fight and attack her for being black and despite all of the obstacles Ruby had to face growing up Ruby still is one of America’s most iconic heroines fighting against different types of injustices.