Ruby Bridges was born 1954 in Mississippi and had a very poor family. At the age of 4, Ruby and her family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana for better jobs. At that time, African-Americans were not treated equally. Black children went to different schools than white children. In 1954 the Supreme Court of the United States ordered all schools to teach both the black and white child together. This was called desegregation.
In 1960, when Ruby started school, a judge sent her to an all white elementary school. She and her parents were so proud. Every Sunday when they went to church, they thanked God for this opportunity Ruby had. Her parents told her to stand up and be proud that she was going to Frantz Elementary School.
Many white people were upset and angry with the new law. They did not want their children to be in a classroom with the African-American children. Mobs of people lined the streets on Rubyís way to school. Many screamed ugly things and threatened Ruby. The President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, sent federal marshals to protect Ruby on her way to school. When Ruby arrived safely at the school, she discovered she was the only student there. All of the other children had been kept home by their parents. The only other person there was her teacher, Ms. Barbara Henry. For months, Ruby was the only one who was educated!
The angry ignorant mobs did not go away. Once, when she was walking to school, she stopped and started to talk. This was a dangerous thing to do. When Ruby got to school her teacher asked her why Ruby had talked to the people. She said she was talking to God, not the people; she was praying and her prayer went like this:
Please, God, try to forgive those people
Because even if they say those bad things,
So you could forgive them,
Just like you did those folks a long time ago
when they said those terrible things about you
Later that year, two white children went back to school. More children came back every day. Ruby finished her first year in an integrated school and went on to graduate from high school.
Now Ruby Bridges Hall is living in New Orleans with her husband and her 4 boys. She continues to be a champion for the cause of improving the quality of education for all children.
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