This is the month that we take out the year to celebrate black history. As a black woman, I’m a big believer that learning about our history should be a consistent goal throughout the year. It is a part of American history too that is often not taught and a lot is left out of history books. There is so much I have learned about black history from my family and on my own. It’s up to us to teach ourselves and our children about the many contributions that black people have made to this country as well as the many many obstacles that our people had to overcome.
In 1954 the United States Supreme Court mandated the desegregation of schools and ruled segregation unconstitutional in the civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Some states still refused to comply and set up difficult tests for black students to take in order to be allowed into white schools. Ruby Bridges took the test and passed.
On November 14th, 1960, Ruby was the first African American child to desegregate William Frantz Elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was just six years old. Due to the danger that Ruby faced going to school, four Federal Marshals were sent to escort Ruby and her mother to Frantz Elementary. Ruby was met by an angry hostile mob of protestors all because a child, a black child, wanted to go to school. They yelled and threw objects at her. They made threats and said horrific things… to a six year old. Including a woman threatening to poison her and another holding up a black baby doll in a coffin. How could grown adults be so cruel to a child all because of the color of her skin? It’s unreal!
Photo Credit-By Uncredited DOJ photographer – Via , Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27473461
Many white parents refused to let their children in the same class as she and some pulled their children from school. Teachers refused to teach with a black student attending and for the remainder of the school year, Ruby was the only student in her classroom. She was taught by Barbra Henry a white teacher from Boston, Massachusetts. The Federal Marshalls continued to escort Ruby to and from school that year.
Can you just imagine the fear Ruby’s parents felt? Knowing the hate that she faced every day just by simply going to school. Can you imagine being a six year old and an angry mob waiting outside when you arrived at school full of hatred? Her bravery is just one of the many stories where ordinary people did extraordinary things, to help bring about change and equality.
“Racism is a grown-up disease. Let’s stop using our kids to spread it.” Ruby Bridges
Visit https://www.rubybridges.com/ to find out about her latest projects and activism.
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