Close your eyes and imagine your first day of school. Now imagine being told you have to go to a new school because you’re smart. Imagine being excited and all dressed up for your first day of a new school but the police arrive to escort you to school instead of a school bus. You walk into your new school but see crowds of people shouting at you and you feel hated. Imagine sitting in a new classroom where no one looks like you and no one wants to be your friend. This is not the typical experience most of us had on our first day of school but for Ruby Bridges this was reality.
Ruby Bridges was the first African American girl to integrate into an all white public elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana. Around the time Ruby was born in 1954 Brown vs. The Board of Education, issued no segregation in public schools in the south. When Ruby was 5 years old she was given a test in order to get into public school. The school system purposely made this academic test hard so that they could keep their schools segregated a little while longer but Little Ruby Bridges passed with flying colors.
What Ruby Bridges and her family didn’t expect was how changed their lives would be because they had such a smart daughter going to an all white school. Ruby’s Father had worked at the same gas station for 8 years, but when Ruby started going to school and gaining attention and hatred from the community, he was fired. Neighbors would refuse allowing their children to play with Ruby because she was bringing in too much negative attention on their neighborhood. There was always police watching Ruby and her families house for protection. The local grocery store Ruby and her family shopped at told them they were no longer welcome to shop in their store. All of this happened because Ruby proved African Americans can learn in the same capacity to all other races.
Imagine what the school system and the neighborhoods would look like today if we didn’t have the Ruby Bridges of the world.
Ruby Bridges (1954-). Taken From Young and Brave :Girls Changing History. “National Women’s History Museum.” Education & Resources. National Women’s History Museum, n.d. Web. 09 June 2016.