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Ruby Bridges Speaker & Booking Information

Civil Rights Activist & First African-American Child to Integrate a White Southern Elementary School
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Ruby Bridges Biography


Ruby Bridges advanced the cause of civil rights in November 1960 when she became the first African American student to integrate an elementary school in the South.
When Bridges was only six years old her parents answered a call from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People volunteering Ruby as a student to participate in the integration of the public school system in New Orleans. She was the first black child to attend William Frantz Elementary School as well as the first African American child to go to an all-white elementary school located in the South. When Ruby was assigned to William Frantz Elementary School her father felt that the backlash would lead to problems for Ruby as well as problems for the family. Her mother felt very strongly that Ruby should be involved in this event and understood the impact Ruby's involvement would have on African Americans in the future.
Ruby was initially supposed to integrate into William Frantz Elementary on November 14 1960 and she remembers that there was a huge crowd of people surrounding the school. As she entered the building people were shouting and throwing things and she didn't understand that the things directed towards her were because a black child dared to enter their school. Once Ruby made it into the school escorted by federal marshals she spent the entire day of the first day of school sitting in the office with her mother while parents continued to show up pull their children out of school and refuse for their children to be educated alongside a black child. All of the teachers with the exception of one Mrs. Barbara Henry from Boston refused to teach Ruby. She became Ruby's teacher and she was her only pupil for the entire year. At the conclusion of the year Mrs. Henry was not asked back at William Frantz Elementary and so she moved back to Boston to raise a family in a place where she felt things were normal. She never forgot about Ruby and kept a picture of the girl with so much courage on her bureau in her bedroom. Mrs. Henry and Ruby Bridges were reunited in adulthood.

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