Who is Ruby Bridges and why is her picture book on civil rights important?

Who is Ruby Bridges and why is her picture book on civil rights important?

Who is Ruby Bridges and why is her picture book on civil rights important?

Ruby Bridges, a legendary figure in the US civil rights movement has released a new one children’s book.

For those unfamiliar with Ruby Bridges name, she rose to fame at the age of six with one of the most significant first days of school in history.

Who is Ruby Bridges?

In 1954, just three months before his birth, the Supreme Court of the United States unanimously decided that separate schools for black and white children were unconstitutional.

Despite the historic decision at the US level, many southern states have not yet done so break up. Police forces in these states also failed to enforce the federal ruling.

It took until 1960 before Judge J. Skelly Wright ordered schools in New Orleans, Louisiana to desegregate their schools.

Just in time for Ruby Bridges Elementary School to start.

Bridges had already attended a segregated kindergarten in 1959. Although the schools were officially ordered to desegregate, they still instituted a prohibitive test to try to reduce black attendance.

Six black children passed the test to attend white schools in New Orleans, including Bridges.

Three of the children went to McDonogh School No. 19. Two others decided to stay in their old black school, leaving Bridges to attend her school, William Frantz Elementary School, as the only black pupil.

At just six, Bridges was famously escorted by four federal marshals on her first day of school.


Normal Rockwell’s 1964 painting “The Problem We All Live With”, depicting 6-year-old Ruby Bridges being escorted to a white-only school in New Orleans. – NANCY PALMIERI / AP2004

Bridges spent his first day at school in the principal’s office with his mother as all white children did not participate in a parent-led boycott.

On the second day in office, the boycott was halted when white parent Lloyd Anderson Foreman accompanied his five-year-old daughter Pam to school. The only white teacher who agreed to teach Bridges was Barbara Henry.

Bridges remembers the impact Henry had on his life.

“This has turned me into a person who has no prejudice. And I feel that that little girl is still inside me and that it is my calling to make sure children understand that you can’t look at someone and judge them, ”Bridges said.

A life story in an illustrated book

Now, Bridges has turned his experience into a children’s picture book.

“I am Ruby Bridges” features illustrations by Nikkolas Smith. The book comes with a glossary explaining terms like “Supreme Court” and “law” for children.

“It’s a true reflection of what happened through my eyes,” Bridges said.

The book is designed to explain the different opportunities and the ability of children to make a difference for its younger audience.

Rogelio V. Solis / Copyright 2018 Associated Press.  All rights reserved.

Ruby Bridges speaks to reporters ahead of the Mississippi Friends for Civil Rights Gala on Friday, February 23, 2018 – Rogelio V. Solis / Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

“I’ve been very, very lucky with the way I tell my story that my kids come in all shapes and colors, and my books are bestsellers and maybe banned in schools,” she said. “But I think parents really want to overcome our racial differences. They will go looking for those books. “

Still a resident of New Orleans, Bridges has published four other books including 2020’s “This is Your Time”, aimed at older children.

The theme of the new book plays on the author’s name: “Ruby” is a precious stone and “Bridges” aims to bring people together. Told with a touch of humor from the perspective of a first-grader, the book captures the wonder of the Bridges experience, rather than just the fear of that raucous first day of school.

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