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Black History Month spotlight: Ruby Bridges integrates schools

Bridges multiplies a legacy of courage
Ruby+Bridges
Jason Kruppa
Ruby Bridges

Carter G. Woodson planted a seed in 1926 with his Negro History Week that would 50 years later bloom into Black History Month. Black History Month, an annual observance, celebrates the triumphs of Black Americans. The national theme for the 2024 Black History Month features “African Americans and the Arts.” In the spirit of Black History Month, Black heroes, past and present, country-wide and local will be highlighted. The goal of this series is to shed light on lesser-known Black Americans who had a great impact in America. This serves to expand students’ understanding of American history by providing them with a glimpse of a piece that is so often missing.  

Ruby Bridges age six was chosen to integrate into the New Orleans school system in 1956. (Google Images)

Ruby Bridges was an American Civil Rights Activist, who was one of the youngest African American students to integrate schools in New Orleans, 1956. Out of six African American students, Bridges was the only one to enroll at the age of six. On November 14, 1960, 6-year-old Bridges was escorted to school by four federal marshals. She spent her day in the principal’s office due to fuming parents who angrily pulled their children out of school. 

Barbra Henry, a young teacher who taught Bridges, would have to teach her in vacant classrooms for a whole year. Every day since the first day of school, Bridges would continue to be escorted by the marshals who would tell her to keep her eyes up, though she could hear the threats and insults of the angry mob. The mobs showed their irritation by displaying racist remarks on signs and faces. 

During this time, Bridges only had two people to confide in, her teacher and Robert Coles, who was a child psychologist who was a professional in studying young children’s reactions to a high-stress situation. Due to Bridges’ bravery and perseverance, mobs started to reduce by the end of the year, and the school enrolled several more Black students.

Bridges currently lives in New Orleans with her husband and four sons, and now runs the Ruby Bridges Foundation for kids who went to the same elementary school she did. She is now an author and has published various books such as “Through My Eyes” and “This Is Your Time.”  Bridges remains a prominent figure in the Civil Rights movement. 

To learn more about Ruby Bridges, go to RubyBridges.com, The Guardian, Brittanica.

To read more from The Feather go to An act of courage or Column: Israel-Hamas conflict unpacked

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Kemya Hopkins
Kemya Hopkins, Journalist
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