November 14, 1960
A little girl starts her first day at school. She is 6 years old, and entering the first grade. Wearing a brand new jumper and Mary Jane shoes, she walks up the steps to her school with her mom and four very big men by her side. There is a crowd shouting and throwing things; she thinks it is a Mardi Gras celebration!
When Ruby Bridges entered school that day, she was the only Black child to have ever attended. Soon, she would be the only child in the school. White parents pulled their children from school in protest. Only one teacher would accept her, and Ruby became her only student for most of the remaining school year.
Ruby Bridges never missed a day at school. She walked every day, past jeering crowds. One woman repeatedly threatened to poison her; another held up a black baby doll in a coffin. A former United States Deputy Marshal 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 very proud of her.”
Ruby’s bravery had its consequences. Her grandparents, who were sharecroppers, were evicted from their farm. Her father lost his job. Grocery stores refused service to her mother. But her walk to school on that first day inspired Norman Rockwell, who had just left the Saturday Evening Post out of frustration with its limits on political expression to join Look Magazine. One of his first paintings for Look was The Problem We All Live With, a depiction of Ruby’s brave walk to school .
Today, Ruby Bridges is an advocate for Civil Rights. She established The Ruby Bridges Foundation to help promote tolerance and create change through education. Visit her website>
“Racism is a grown-up disease. Let’s stop using our kids to spread it.” – Ruby Bridges