Ruby Bridges: First Black Child to Integrate Louisiana School, Philanthropist

1 Posted by - March 12, 2016 - BLACK EDUCATION, BLACK WOMEN

The Black Liberation struggle is waged by the masses. A prime example is the heroism of Ruby Bridges. Born in 1954 in Mississippi, her family relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana, when she was four years old. When she was six, her family responded to a request from the New Orleans NAACP to desegregate William J. Frantz Elementary School. Passing the entrance exam with flying colors, her mother was proud of the fact that her daughter was taking measures to advance the struggle for legal equality for all African American children.

Upon arriving at the school on November 14, 1960, escorted by U.S. Marshals, Bridges recalled confusing the hostile and virulently racist mob that greeted her with a Mardi Gras crowd. Yet, she never cried or wavered in her determination to receive her education. The teachers at the school went to strike and refusedĀ to teach Bridges except for one, a white teacher from Boston named Barbara Henry.

White students and parents went on strikeĀ as well, refusing to attend classes for several weeks. Her family also faced various ramifications of the integration, as her sharecropper grandparents in Mississippi were evicted, her parents were refused service at the local grocery store, and her father lost his job. Nevertheless, they persevered.

Bridges successfully graduated from high school and traveled around the country, educating on the dangers and pains caused by racism. In 1999, she founded the Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote “tolerance, respect, and appreciation of all differences.” She believes it is abominable that adults use children as instruments to foment and spread racism.

She was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton. In 2014, a statue of her likeness was created for the courtyard of William Frantz Elementary School.


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