Born to Abon and Lucille Bridges, Ruby Bridges is one of the most impactful women even in the current world. Born on September 8, 1954, not even her parents knew what awaited her.
Today, she teaches and inspires people globally to start their paths and create a trail for themselves. She depicts the true meaning of resilience and proves age has nothing to do with anything. Here are some facts about her to further emphasize why Ruby Bridges is the force she is today.
1. Ruby Bridges Was the First Black American to Join an All-White Public School
In 1956, when Ruby was only two years old, her family relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana, looking for better employment opportunities. It’s worth noting that Lucille Bridges bore Ruby in the same year the U.S. Supreme Court made an iconic ruling on the Brown V. the Board of Education of Topeka case.
The ruling was favorable, especially for African Americans. It was now possible for children from every race to go to school together. All was not well down south, though. The white parents were not willing to have their children go to school with those of African Americans. This presented a considerable problem.
Ruby and four other kids did a test to determine whether they could be admitted to the all-white William Frantz Elementary School. She aced the exam, and she was ready to join. Many problems arose, but she was determined to beat the odds, so she joined anyway.
2. She Never Missed a Day of School
As aforementioned, Ruby’s first year wasn’t exactly off to a great start; she faced many challenges. Ones that would faze a grown adult, leave alone a 6-year-old child. To begin with, her letter of acceptance wasn’t outrightly given to her. She had to go through many long meetings before getting it.
Then there was an issue of white parents threatening to withdraw their students from William Frantz Elementary School if Ruby or any other African American student joined – and they did! The site of other students leaving because she was joining traumatized Ruby, but she soldiered on.
Speaking of which, Ruby had guards escorting her to and from school for a year. All this time, she would pass through jeers and whistles. She braved all manner of slurs for education. Her parents packed food for her to eat at school for fear of being poisoned.
If Ruby had given up at this point, we would understand. But guess what? She never missed a day of school in her first year.
3. Some People Don’t Rate Ruby Bridges At All
Fast forward to as latest as March 2023, and some people still don’t think what Ruby Bridges went through was inspiring enough. To give you a little back story, teachers and the necessary policymakers agreed to continue using Ruby’s story, and film, to inspire others and change advocacy.
There is also a film by Disney inspired by the events of Ruby Bridges’ story. The film has since been adopted as a teaching aid in schools. However, a parent recently moved to court to block the use of the material, claiming that it depicts the whites in a bad picture.
While the parent reserves their right to have their opinion, most people agree there is nothing wrong with Ruby’s story. A review board saw that way, too, and gave the green light for the movie to continue serving as a teaching aid.
4. Ruby Bridges Benefited from Psychiatric Help
It’s fair to say not all white people were against desegregation. If anything, one of the most helpful people during Ruby’s early school life was Robert Coles, a white child psychiatrist. After seeing what Ruby and her family were going through, Coles offered to help wholeheartedly.
He visited Ruby weekly, helping her with everything she needed on the psychiatric front. He later published a book highlighting the impact of desegregation on students.