Ruby Nell Bridges was born on September 8, 1954 in Tylertown, Mississippi. She moved to New Orleans when she was four. At the age of six, she passed a test administered by the Nation Association for the Advancement of Colored People for black students to join the better white schools, as part of the integration program. Six students were chosen from New Orleans. Out of those six, two decided to stay where they were, three went to McDonogh No. 19, and Ruby went to William Frantz Elementary. She had to be escorted by U.S. Marshals everywhere because of segregation, even to the bathroom.
Every day, as she walked to school surrounded by the marshals, there were crowds of people protesting her joining the school. On her first day, she had to sit in the office the whole day. One woman would scream that she would poison Ruby; another waved a little black doll in a coffin at Ruby’s face. Bridges said later that the coffin scared her the most. None of the teachers would teach her except for Mrs. Barbara Henry, a woman from Boston. Since all of the parents pulled their kids out of school in protest of Ruby’s joining, she was the only child in the whole school for a year. Their whole family suffered because of this; Ruby’s father, Adon, lost his job, and they were banned from entering stores.
The next year, everything changed. There were about twenty other students in her class, and she wasn’t the only black girl in the school. Ruby Bridges was an extremely brave girl who was able to start the change of racial segregation until how we know it today. Even after graduating school, she went on the found the Ruby Bridges Foundation, which was formed to try to stop all forms of discrimination and segregation.
Ruby Bridges (second from right) meets with President Obama.
Image Credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Frantz_Elementary_School#mediaviewer/File:Ruby_Bridges_and_Obama.jpg