Sometimes an act of courage comes in what may be considered a simple act of defiance. That is what defined Ruby Bridges. Born in 1954 and living in Louisiana, she because the first African-American child to attend an elementary school that was all white. That was William Frantz Elementary School and the year was 1960, a full six years after the Supreme Court ruled that school integration was mandatory.
1. A Family Split
Ruby’s father didn’t like the idea that his little girl would be going to a school full of white folks. His concerns were that the other kids would pick on her, bully her, and it would be because of the color of her skin. Considering the era, those were justifiable fears. Ruby’s mother wanted her daughter to get the best education possible and in her perspective, that could only come from a white school.
2. Follow the Footsteps
Have you ever noticed that once someone steps up to the plate and has the courage to lead, others begin to follow in those footsteps? That leadership role would be what Ruby would be doing for the United States. Law enforcement officials, however, had similar concerns to what Ruby’s father expressed. During her first days at William Frantz Elementary, she was under constant police supervision.
3. A Lonely First Year
First grade for Ruby was a long, trying experience for her. The other parents didn’t want their kids being in the same class as a girl with a different color of skin, so Ruby wound up having a classroom all to herself. Her first-grade teacher was Mrs. Henry and she made sure that Ruby received the education she deserved. By the second grade, the classrooms were integrated and she wasn’t alone any more.
4. An Award Winner
In 2001, Ruby was awarded the Presidential Citizen’s Medal because of her courage in fighting for equal educational rights. It would be an act that would help others stand up for their own rights of equality and eventually lead to the Civil Rights Movement that would change America.
Ruby Bridges proved that everyone can make a difference. If a 6 year old girl can inspire others by going to school, then what could these facts inspire you to do today?