Who Is Ruby Bridges?
Ruby Bridges was six when she became the first African American child to integrate a white Southern elementary school. On November 14, 1960, she was escorted to class by her mother and U.S. marshals due to violent mobs. Bridges' brave act was a milestone in the , and she's shared her story with future generations in educational forums.
雷电竞娱乐Ruby Nell Bridges was born on September 8, 1954, in Tylertown, Mississippi. She grew up on the farm her parents and grandparents sharecropped in Mississippi.decision desegregating schools is a notable coincidence in her early journey into civil rights activism.
When Bridges was in kindergarten, she was one of many African American students in New Orleans who were chosen to take a test determining whether or not she could attend a white school. It is said the test was written to be especially difficult so that students would have a hard time passing. The idea was that if all the African American children failed the test, New Orleans schools might be able to stay segregated for a while longer.
雷电竞娱乐Bridges lived a mere five blocks from an all-white school, but she attended kindergarten several miles away, at an all-Black segregated school. Bridges’ father was averse to his daughter taking the test, believing that if she passed and was allowed to go to the white school, there would be trouble. However, her mother, Lucille, pressed the issue, believing that Bridges would get a better education at a white school. She was eventually able to convince Bridges' father to let her take the test
雷电竞娱乐In 1960, Bridges' parents were informed by officials from the NAACP that she was one of only six African American students to pass the test. Bridges would be the only African American student to attend the William Frantz School, near her home, and the first Black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South.
Effect on the Bridges Family
The abuse wasn't limited to only Bridges; her family suffered as well. Her father lost his job at the filling station, and her grandparents were sent off the land they had sharecropped for over 25 years. The grocery store where the family shopped banned them from entering. However, many others in the community, both Black and white, began to show support in a variety of ways. Gradually, many families began to send their children back to the school and the protests and civil disturbances seemed to subside as the year went on.
雷电竞娱乐A neighbor provided Bridges' father with a job, while others volunteered to babysit the four children, watch the house as protectors, and walk behind the federal marshals on the trips to school.
Signs of Stress
After winter break, Bridges began to show signs of stress. She experienced nightmares and would wake her mother in the middle of the night seeking comfort.For a time, she stopped eating lunch in her classroom, which she usually ate alone. Wanting to be with the other students, she would not eat the sandwiches her mother packed for her, but instead hid them in a storage cabinet in the classroom.
Soon, a janitor discovered the mice and cockroaches who had found the sandwiches. The incident led Mrs. Henry to lunch with Bridges in the classroom.Bridges started seeing child psychologist Dr. Robert Coles, who volunteered to provide counseling during her first year at Frantz School. He was very concerned about how such a young girl would handle the pressure. He saw Bridges once a week either at school or at her home.
During these sessions, he would just let her talk about what she was experiencing. Sometimes his wife came too and, like Dr. Coles, she was very caring toward Bridges. Coles later wrote a series of articles for Atlantic Monthly and eventually a series of books on how children handle change, including a children's book on Bridges' experience.
Near the end of the first year, things began to settle down. A few white children in Bridges' grade returned to the school. Occasionally, Bridges got a chance to visit with them. By her own recollection many years later, Bridges was not that aware of the extent of the racism that erupted over her attending the school. But when another child rejected Bridges' friendship because of her race, she began to slowly understand.
By Bridges' second year at Frantz School, it seemed everything had changed. Mrs. Henry's contract wasn't renewed, and so she and her husband returned to Boston. There were also no more federal marshals; Bridges walked to school every day by herself. There were other students in her second-grade class, and the school began to see full enrollment again. No one talked about the past year. It seemed everyone wanted to put the experience behind them.
雷电竞娱乐Bridges finished grade school and graduated from the integrated Francis T. Nicholls High School in New Orleans. She then studied travel and tourism at the Kansas City business school and worked for American Express as a world travel agent.
Husband and Children
In 1984, Bridges married Malcolm Hall in New Orleans. She later became a full-time parent to their four sons.
Norman Rockwell Painting
In 1963, painter Norman Rockwell recreated Bridges' monumental first day at school in the painting, “The Problem We All Live With.” The image of this small Black girl being escorted to school by four large white men graced the cover of Look magazine on January 14, 1964.
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, now owns the painting as part of its permanent collection. In 2011, the museum loaned the work to be displayed in the West Wing of the White House for four months upon the request of President Barack Obama.
Book and Movie
'The Story of Ruby Bridges'
In 1995, Robert Coles, Bridges' child psychologist and a Pulitzer-Prize winning author, published The Story of Ruby Bridges, a children's picture book depicting her courageous story.
Soon after, Barbara Henry, her teacher that first year at Frantz School, contacted Bridges and they were reunited on The Oprah Winfrey Show.
“Ruby Bridges” is a Disney TV movie, written by Toni Ann Johnson, about Bridges' experience as the first Black child to integrate an all-white Southern elementary school.
The two-hour film, shot entirely in Wilmington, North Carolina, first aired on January 18, 1998, and was introduced by President Bill Clinton雷电竞娱乐 and Disney CEO Michael Eisner in the Cabinet Room of the White House.
Ruby Bridges Foundation
雷电竞娱乐In 1999, Bridges formed the Ruby Bridges Foundation, headquartered in New Orleans. Bridges was inspired following the murder of her youngest brother, Malcolm Bridges, in a drug-related killing in 1993 — which brought her back to her former elementary school.
For a time, Bridges looked after Malcolm's four children, who attended William Frantz School. She soon began to volunteer there three days a week and soon became a parent-community liaison.
雷电竞娱乐With Bridges' experience as a liaison at the school and her reconnection with influential people in her past, she began to see a need for bringing parents back into the schools to take a more active role in their children's education.
Bridges launched her foundation to promote the values of tolerance, respect and appreciation of differences. Through education and inspiration, the foundation seeks to end racism and prejudice. As its motto goes, "Racism is a grown-up disease, and we must stop using our children to spread it."
In 2007, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis unveiled a new exhibition documenting Bridges' life, along with the lives of Anne Frank雷电竞娱乐 and Ryan White.
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