Celebrating MLK: "Ruby Bridges - An American Sheroe U.S. Marshals escorting the brave Ruby Bridges.
A story every children of America should know. She became the poster child for integration of schools.
Courageous Ruby Nell Bridges Hall, born September 8, 1954, is known as the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South in 1960, despite the enormous pressure and hatred from white citizens. She attended William Frantz Elementary School at 3811 North Galvez Street, New Orleans, LA 70117.
In 1960, when she was 6 years old, her parents responded to a call from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and volunteered her to participate in the integration of the New Orleans School system, even though it did not want her to.
In Spring 1960, Ruby Bridges was one of several black children in New Orleans to take a test to determine which children would be the first to attend integrated schools. Six students were chosen; however, two students decided to stay at their old school, and three were transferred to Mcdonough.
Ruby was the only one assigned to William Frantz. Her father was initially reluctant, but her mother felt strongly that the move was needed not only to give her own daughter a better education, but to "take this step forward ... for all African-American children."
The court-ordered first day of integrated schools in New Orleans, November 14, 1960, was commemorated by Norman Rockwell in the painting The Problem We All Live With.
As Bridges describes it, "Driving up I could see the crowd, but living in New Orleans, I actually thought it was Mardi Gras. There was a large crowd of people outside of the school. They were throwing things and shouting, and that sort of goes on in New Orleans at Mardi Gras."
Former United States Deputy Marshal Charles Burks later recalled, "She showed a lot of courage. She never cried. She didn't whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier, and we're all very proud of her."
As soon as Bridges got into the school, white parents went in and brought their own children out; all teachers refused to teach while a black child was enrolled. They hired Barbara Henry, from Boston, Massachusetts, to teach Bridges, and for over a year Mrs. Henry taught her alone, "as if she were teaching a whole class."
That first day, Bridges and her adult companions spent the entire day in the principal's office; the chaos of the school prevented their moving to the classroom until the second day. Every morning, as Bridges walked to school, one woman would threaten to poison her; because of this, the U.S. Marshals dispatched by President Eisenhower, who were overseeing her safety, only allowed Ruby to eat food that she brought from home.
Another woman at the school put a black baby doll in a wooden coffin and protested with it outside the school, a sight that Bridges Hall has said "scared me more than the nasty things people screamed at us."
At her mother's suggestion, Bridges began to pray on the way to school, which she found provided protection from the comments yelled at her on the daily walks.
Child psychiatrist Robert Coles volunteered to provide counseling to Bridges during her first year at Frantz. He met with her weekly in the Bridges home, later writing a children's book, The Story of Ruby Bridges, to acquaint other children with Bridges' story.
The Bridges family suffered for their decision to send her to William Frantz Elementary: her father lost his job, and her grandparents, who were sharecroppers in Mississippi, were turned off their land.
On January 8, 2001, Bridges was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton.
In October, 2006, the Alameda Unified School District dedicated a new elementary school to Ruby Bridges, and issued a proclamation in her honor." ~ From "I Love Ancestry"