Thursday, March 26, 2015

Heroes You Should Know:  Ruby Bridges

What’s the big deal about a six year-old going to school in New Orleans?  Maybe not much today, but in the fall of 1960, in a totally segregated school system, a certain girl attending a certain school was a very big deal.

You see, Ruby Bridges was black, and William Frantz Elementary school was for white children only.  Her father didn’t want her to go, but Ruby’s mother knew some child would have to step up.  Ruby agreed.

So, accompanied by U.S. Marshalls, six year-old Ruby with school books in hand, entered the school on November 14, 1960.  A crowd of angry protesters were waiting for her with profanities, tomatoes, and threats of physical violence.  One woman threatened to poison her, while another put a black doll in a coffin and held it up for Ruby to see as she passed by.

But none of the hatred stopped history.

Ruby attended school every day, although the school was almost completely empty.  All of the white students had been pulled by their parents, and only one teacher agreed to teach Ruby.  And the abuse outside the school continued.

But slowly, as the year continued, change came.  Some white families began sending their children back to the school, and several white families began watching the Bridges home to make sure it wasn’t vandalized, and even joined the federal marshalls in escorting Ruby to school.

Today, this courageous woman still lives in New Orleans, speaks and writes about tolerance, and continues to show us all how beautiful forgiveness is.  She is a woman of amazing grace. 

Ruby Bridges is a hero you should know.  And I'm Dr. Ross Porter.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Heroes You hould Know:  Eleanor Kirk

The victim of an abusive first marriage, and a widow before age forty when her second husband died, Eleanor Ames, with five children to support, decided she’d reinvent herself, take ‘Eleanor Kirk’ as a pen name, and write.  

She got a job as a reporter for the New York Standard, and never looked back.  Over the course of her career she would write on everything from politics and fashion to mental health and exercise. 

In 1868 she had joined forces with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in advocating on a national level for women’s rights in the workforce.

And by 1870 she was being hailed by the New York Herald as “the most pronounced of the women’s rights women.”  She remained steadfast in her belief that women’s rights could not be separated from the rights of the unborn.

By the 1880’s Kirk’s columns had become syndicated, and were being read by millions in 150 newspapers throughout the United States.  

She would go on to found her own magazine, and publish books, ranging from fiction and poetry to a practical guide for women trying to break into the writing world. 

The fact that Eleanor Kirk, as a single parent, supported five children as a writer in the male-dominated publishing world of the mid 1800’s, and earned a national following in the process is remarkable enough... and qualifies her as successful.  The fact that she used her considerable influence to advocate for the rights of women and the unborn elevates her to significant.

Eleanor Kirk is a hero you should know. And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.