Ruby Bridges was six years old when she was one of a few children chosen to be the first student to desegregate a public school in Louisiana. When the day came for her first day of First Grade, she was accompanied on this journey by federal marshals. The gauntlet of hate that this little girl walked through that day and through the rest of the school year, was horrific.
Last fall was the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of a New Orleans public school. I read two books about this milestone happening in the struggle for civil rights in this country. The first was a picture book written by Robert Coles, called The Story of Ruby Bridges. It’s a powerful and moving telling of a little girl’s experience and her inner strength and faith that helped her through it. The gauntlet of hatred she had to walk through on that first day of school, and for most of that school year, was horrific. But this book is an excellent introduction to this historical happening for young people. Robert Coles is a Harvard professor emeritus, a child psychiatrist and author, who actually worked with Ruby Bridges during that school year in 1960, helping her cope with the effects of that experience.
The second book was Through My Eyes, by Ruby Bridges herself. She narrated the audiobook version, and I’m glad I listened to her read it. That incredible experience, described in her own words, was so powerful. I also enjoyed hearing about her life after that year, and about what she is doing now to help others and educate others about racism. She really is a hero…not just because of the courage she showed at such a young age, but because of the life she has chosen to live since that time.
I highly recommend reading both of these books!