Ruby Nell Bridges was born on September 8, 1954, in Tylertown, Mississippi. She grew up on the farm that her family had sharecropped on. In 1958, The Bridges family moved to New Orleans in pursuit of a better life. Her parents took odd jobs in order to support their growing family.
The year that Bridges was born, the Supreme Court decided to desegregate schools during the Brown v. Board of Education case. In an effort to successfully desegregate public schools in New Orleans, Black students were given an aptitude test. The test was purposely made to be difficult in the hopes that all the Black students would fail, thus justifying segregation.
Bridges’ father was against her taking the school’s test. He felt that if she passed the test and was selected to desegregate an all-White school, there would be trouble. Her mother felt otherwise. She thought it would give Ruby access to a better education. Her mother finally convinced her father and Ruby was able to take the test.
In 1960, NAACP officials notified Bridges’ parents that she was one of six Black students to pass the test. As a result, she was the first Black student to attend the all-White William Frantz School. She was also the first Black student to desegregate the public education system in the American South.
Louisiana State Legislature attempted to prevent Bridges from desegregating their schools. The State Legislature had exhausted all resources and had no choice but to concede. In November of 1960, Bridges desegregated the education system. The federal government sent marshals to New Orleans in order to escort young Ruby inside the school.
As Bridges walked up to the school, White parents and students stood outside protesting integration. They shouted ugly insults and threw things at six-year-old Ruby. Many of the parents decided not to send their children to school, so classes were canceled. As a result, Bridges spent the entire day in the principle’s office.
Although the protests eventually ceased, Bridges still faced racism from her classmates, their parents, and school officials. Nevertheless, she persevered. She ultimately graduated from Francis T. Nicholls High School in New Orleans. She then went on to study travel and tourism at the Kansas City business school. Upon graduating, she worked as a world travel agent for American Express.
In 1993, Bridges’ brother was shot and killed. She moved back to New Orleans to raise his kids. Her nieces and nephews attended her alma mater, William Frantz School. She noticed a lack of parent involvement among the students and thus founded the Ruby Bridges Foundation. At the age of 64, Ruby Bridges continues to fight racism and prejudice through her foundation.
**The views and actions of the DDH historical figures that are featured may not reflect the views and beliefs of Ramiro The Writer or We Buy Black. Thank you.**]]>