Ruby Nell Bridges
Born on September 8, 1954, in Tylertown, Mississippi, Ruby Bridges was 6 when she became the first African-American child to integrate a white Southern elementary school, having to be escorted to class by her mother and U.S. marshals due to violent mobs. Bridges' bravery paved the way for continued Civil Rights action and she’s shared her story with future generations in educational forums. Read more...
On the morning of November 14, 1960, Federal Marshals drove Ruby and her mother five blocks to her new school. One of the men explained that when they arrived at the school, two marshals would walk in front of Ruby and two would be behind her. The image of this small black girl being escorted to school inspired Normal Rockwell to create the painting "The Problem We All Must Live With", which graced the cover of LOOK magazine in 1964.
Ruby has been the subject of several books and a movie. She currently resides in New Orleans.
"My message is really that racism has no place in the hearts and minds of our children." – Ruby Bridges
"In order to truly make lasting positive change—to keep Dr. King's dream moving forward—we need to think big and act big." – Ruby Bridges
"That first morning I remember mom saying as I got dressed in my new outfit, 'Now, I want you to behave yourself today, Ruby, and don't be afraid. There might be a lot of people outside this new school, but I'll be with you.'" – Ruby Bridges
"I wish there were enough marshals to walk with every child as they faced the hatred and racism today, and to support, encourage them the way these federal marshals did for me." – Ruby Bridges
"My mother said to me, 'Ruby, if I'm not with you and you're afraid, then always say your prayers.'" – Ruby Bridges
"There were lots of people outside, and they were screaming and shouting and the police officers. But I thought it was Mardi Gras, you know, I didn't know that all of that was because of me." – Ruby Bridges
"Racism is something that we, as adults, have kept alive. We pass it on to our kids. None of our kids come into the world knowing anything about disliking one another." – Ruby Bridges
"I believe that history should be taught in a different way. History definitely should be taught the way it happened—good, bad or ugly. History is sacred. For me history is a foundation and the truth." – Ruby Bridges
"[My teacher Mrs. Henry] taught me what Dr. King tried to teach all of us. We should never judge a person by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. That was the lesson I learned at 6 years old."