Our very special guest this week is Ruby Bridges who changed the world forever at just six years old. In 1960 Ruby was the first black child to go to an integrated school in the American South. This moment has become an iconic symbol of the civil rights movement and changed her life forever. Books have been written about her, movies made about her and the artist Norman Rockwell painted the moment of her first day at school - a work of art that Barack Obama moved into the White House during his precedency.
Ruby and I talked about her story, how she became an activist, the horrific racism she faced and how she feels about her place in history. We were so lucky to have this conversation and I hope it means as much to you as it did to us.
Born on September 8, 1954, Ruby Bridges was the oldest of five children and at two years old, her parents moved their family to New Orleans, Louisiana in search of better work opportunities. Ruby’s birth year coincided with the US Supreme Court’s landmark ruling, which ended racial segregation in public schools. But southern states continued to resist integration, and in 1959, Ruby attended a segregated New Orleans kindergarten.
A year later Louisiana was forced to desegregate. The school district created entrance exams for African American students to see whether they could compete academically at the all-white school. Ruby and five other students passed the exam.
On November 14 1960 Ruby and her mother were escorted by four federal marshals to the school and they escorted her every day that year. She walked past crowds screaming slurs at her - someone even held a black baby doll in a coffin. She spent her first day in the principal’s office due to the chaos created as angry white parents pulled their children from school. Some parents withdrew their children permanently.
Over time, other African American students enrolled and Ruby graduated from a desegregated high school, became a travel agent, married and had four sons.
Ruby has been a lifelong activist for racial equality and in1999 she established The Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance and create change through education.
The Making Of is hosted by Bea Appleby. The production is brought to you by The Female Lead
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