This year, during Black History Month, Hickman Mills C-1 Schools is celebrating the many accomplishments of African Americans who have shaped our nation and our community.
At the age of six, Ruby Bridges advanced the cause of civil rights in November 1960 when she became the first African American student to integrate an elementary school in the south.
In 1959, Ruby attended a segregated school in New Orleans before a federal court ordered Louisiana to desegregate in 1960. To avoid accepting African American students, they had to complete an entrance exam. Ruby, along with five other students, passed the exam.
While the all-white William Frantz Elementary School was just a few blocks from their home, Ruby’s father feared for her safety. However, Ruby’s mother wanted her to have better educational opportunities. Ruby, along with three other students, were sent to the all-white McDonough Elementary School.
Every day, Ruby and her mother were escorted by federal marshals to the school. She walked past crowds of angry white parents and only one teacher, Barbara Henry, a white Boston native, would teach Ruby. She was in a class of one, ate lunch alone, and played alone at recess. She did not miss a day of school that year. Over time, other African American students enrolled in the school.
Ruby served as a lifelong activist for racial equality and in 1999, she established The Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance and create change through education.