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.

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