Civil Rights Activist: Ruby Bridges


As you know, I was six years old and not really understanding what was going on around me at the time. I had already attended school for kindergarten and a couple of months of first grade. So this wasn’t like my first day of school, but this was my first day attending an integrated school. supposably, and I say supposably because the minute I got inside of the building, parents rushed in and they took their kids out. So I actually attended this all-white school alone. For a whole year. I sat in an empty classroom with a teacher that was white who came from Boston to teach me because teachers in New Orleans refused to teach black children. So lots of them quit their jobs. So this women came from Boston to teach me and it was just her and I for the whole year. in an empty school building, in an empty class. Having lived in New Orleans all my life, even at six, I was accustomed to Marti Gras It was something that we participated in every year so, I remember being in the car with federal marshals I had to be escorted to school every day by marshals and when we would turn the corner in front of my new school, there were lots of people standing out in front and they were protestors. I didn’t realize that. I thought I had stumbled onto a Marti Gras parade. So, that’s important for me to point out because I want people to understand that what was going on in my mind, at six years old, is probably the exact same thing that would go on in the minds of all of our six-year-old kids. I always said that the lesson I took away that year in first grade was the fact that seeing the crowd and at some point seeing their faces that looked really angry about something I couldn’t really put my finger on what it was. I had no idea that it was you know, had to do with me and the color of my skin but I could tell that they were upset about something and yet, this very same woman that greeted me every day, who was white and looked exactly like them, she was different. So, I knew at that point that even though she looked like them that she wasn’t like them. and I always like to say that I think what she did is she showed me her heart. It was what was inside that mattered and I could tell that even though they looked alike, they were very very different. and I think that is the lesson that I learned was the same lesson that I think Dr King tried to teach all of us that you can’t look at a person and judge them by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

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