Ruby Nell Bridges Hall (born September 8, 1954) is an American activist known for being the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South. Ruby is two years older than me. I remember seeing the images of her entering that school. The photos were frightening. She was just 6 years old and facing down the angry demonstrators and the media as well. What amazing strength that child possessed.
I remember moving to Alabama in 1968 and going to jr high for the first time and how terrified I was. The fear I had was that I was a 13 year old Yankee girl. The school band played Dixie and waved the Confederate flag during pep rallies in the gym. Yes it was scary and I was much older and white. Image that tiny little girl going up those steps...
Today I saw the photo of Ruby...I see it every February during Black History Month. But today I cried over it. What happened to that girl? Did she have a better life?
The answer is yes...
New Orleans Civil Rights pioneer Ruby Bridges met with President Obama in July of 2011 to celebrate the hanging of the famous Norman Rockwell painting, “The Problem We All Live With.”
Rockwell’s painting depicts 6-year-old Miss Ruby Bridges surrounded by federal marshals as she integrated William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans in 1960. The painting, which was on the cover of Look Magazine in 1964 and immediately became an important image of the Civil Rights Movement, was hung in the White House to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the integration of public elementary schools in the South.
“Since President Obama came into office, I have supported having the painting hung in the White House,” said Bridges. “It is the perfect symbol of how much we have accomplished in the last 50 years and a poignant reminder of how far we have left to go.”
The true story of Ruby Bridges, an African-American girl who, in 1960 at age 6, helped to integrate the all-white schools of New Orleans. Although she was the only black girl to come to the school she was sent to, (and since all the white mothers pulled their children out of class, she was the only one there, period), and though she faced a crowd of angry white citizens every day, she emerged unscathed, physically or emotionally.
Encouraged by her teacher, a white woman from the North named Barbara Henry, and her mother, Lucille, and with her own quiet strength, she eventually broke down a century-old barrier forever, a pivotal moment in the civil-rights movement.- Written by Tommy Peter