Ruby Bridges was born during a time when black children and white children couldn’t go to school together. The law said schools for these children should be separate, but equal. But that’s not what happened.
Schools for white children were almost always equipped with better supplies, better books, and better teachers. It wasn’t fair. Ruby Bridges helped change things by going to an all-white school. But it wasn’t easy.
- Ruby Bridges was born in 1954 in Tylertown, Mississippi. Her parents were farmers and she was the oldest of five children.
- When she was two, Ruby’s family moved to New Orleans in search of better opportunities.
- The same year Ruby was born, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that schools must desegregate. That meant black children must be allowed to go to any school.
- But most states in the South resisted. Change was hard to accept. The U.S. government ordered the state of Louisiana to desegregate.
- Ruby could go to an all-white school near her house. Her dad was afraid to let her go. He worried about her safety. Her mother thought she should go because she wanted Ruby to get a good education.
- So on November 14, 1960, Ruby’s mother walked her to school along with four U.S. marshalls. Angry people lined the street. They yelled mean things at Ruby and her mother, but the two were strong. Ruby’s mother told her to pray for help.
- People were so mad they pulled their children out of that school. Only one teacher, Barbara Henry from Boston, would agree to teach Ruby. And so, Miss Henry and Ruby spent every day in the classroom with no other children. They ate lunch together and played on the playground together.
- Ruby’s family faced great hardship because of their choice to send Ruby to school. Her father was fired from his job. Shopkeepers in grocery stores refused to sell groceries to her mother. Ruby’s grandparents were kicked off the farm where they’d worked and lived for over 25 years. All because one little girl wanted to go to school.
- But Ruby and her family persisted and Ruby finally graduated from an all-white school. She became a travel agent and had four children.
- Segregation: to keep separate
- Marshall: federal police
Questions and Answers
Question: Did Ruby see her teacher again?
Answer: Yes, the two were reunited when Ruby was grown up and did public speeches together. Ruby also wrote two books and won several awards.
Watch a video featuring Ruby Bridges.