In 1960, a 6 year old girl, Ruby Bridges became the world symbol of the courage to learn amidst untold intimidation & hate. The US Supreme court had just ordered that all schools be desegregated in the US to allow black children & white ones study together. The American South, the heart of racial segregation could hear none of it.
New Orleans, where Ruby’s parents had settled from Mississipi decided on a plan to keep off the black youngsters & scuttle the court order. They decided to have very difficult entry examinations that black students couldn’t pass to frustrate their efforts to study with white students & the exam was only given to black students. Despite the painfully difficult exams, 6 black children passed, including Ruby.
The examinations body decided Ruby Bridges be admitted to the William Frantz Elementary school to begin her nursery studies. The community, teachers of the school & pupils would hear none of it. When Ruby reported for her first day in nursery school, there were violent riots & people threw objects at her. The following day all parents withdrew their children from the school. All the teachers also withdrew from the school saying they couldn’t teach a black kid. *Except one brave teacher Barbara Henry.*
Realizing that the US State of New Orleans wanted to disobey a court order requiring them to admit black children, President Dwight Eisenhower ordered that Ruby must attend school & sent Federal Marshalls to escort Ruby daily to school. Little did he know, the US soldiers would escort the young 6 year old girl for a record 1 year.
As she went to school daily, escorted by US Soldiers, large crowds of adults & their children gathered by the road side who abused her, threw objects at her. *One woman who cooked at the school threatened to poison her.* The Marshalls decided she must now eat at her own home. *A woman in the crowd daily showed her the image of a black doll in a wooden coffin as they spat on her.* *Locals shops refused to sell anything to her parents.* They were turned away from every shop they went. Then the girl started having stress & would wake her mother in the middle of the night seeking comfort. The hate was too much for her to bear.
For 1 year, US soldiers escorted the brave Ruby to William Frantz school where there were only 2 people, Teacher Barbara & 1 student Ruby. They sat side by side or facing each other. There was nobody else. President Eisenhower handed over power & the predicament of Ruby Bridges to President John Kennedy. After 1 year, with the parents & protesting teachers realizing Ruby & Presidents Eisenhower & Kennedy not flinching an inch, decided to return their children to school. Then the racist teachers returned. After a full 1 year. *Ruby Bridges had stoically fought racism as a 6 year old.*