Ruby Nell Bridges Hall, born on September 8, 1954, is an American civil rights activist and a pioneer of educational desegregation. Bridges is infamous for being the first African-American child to integrate into an all-white school. This leader’s contributions to the African-American community have set her apart from the crowd. She was a strong little girl who faced immense bullying and adversity while trying to obtain an education. This is why she deserves to be honored today on her birthday!
Ruby Nell Bridges was born in Tylertown, Mississippi, on September 8, 1954. Bridges is of African-American descent. Her parents, Abon and Lucille Bridges, were barely making ends meet. The family relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana, for a better life. When Bridges turned six in 1960, she wrote an exam that qualified her to enroll at an all-white school. Even though the Brown v. Board of Education rule was finalized in 1954, three months before her birth, the southern states were hesitant toward the six-year integration law. This is because many whites didn’t want their schools to be integrated. So, they showed their outrage by intimidating and bullying Bridges, even as a little girl.
Bridges was one of six African-American students who passed the test and were to be integrated into the all-white William Frantz Elementary School. However, she is the only one who showed up on November 14, 1960, to her first day at the school. Bridges was escorted by four federal marshals every day until the reproach lessened. However, she could not move to the classroom due to the unrelenting chaos on the first day. Bridges’ presence in the all-white William Frantz Elementary School made several white parents remove their kids from the school. In addition, all the teachers refused to teach her, except for Barbara Henry, who taught her in a class alone.
In her adult life, Bridges married Malcolm Hall, founded the Ruby Bridges Foundation in 1999, had a movie made about her life, lost her home to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and met with President Obama in July 2011. She has received several honors, including honorary degrees from Connecticut College and Tulane University in 1995 and 2012, respectively. Bridges won the Carter G. Woodson Book Award in 2000, received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Bill Clinton in 2001, and has two elementary schools named after her. She also has a statue in the William Frantz Elementary School courtyard. Bridges has achieved a lot with her platform and life experience. She is the subject of Norman Rockwell’s The Problem We All Live With painting and has four sons with her husband.
Four federal marshals escort Bridges on her first day at Frantz Elementary School.
“Ruby Bridges” is a movie that depicts Bridges’ struggle.
Bridges creates her eponymous foundation to “promote values of tolerance, respect, and appreciation of all differences.”
This museum unveils a permanent exhibit that documents her life.
Bridges attends the William Frantz Elementary school reunion with Pam Foreman, the first white child at the school to break the boycott.
Bridges writes a series of books, depicting her life and experiences. These include 'I am Ruby Bridges' and 'This is Your Time'.
Why We Love Ruby Bridges
We love her exemplary courage
The intense racism Bridges faced as a six-year-old is enough to make any grown adult cry, but Bridges didn’t flinch. She walked those halls with her head up every single day.
We love her contributions to the community
Bridges’ experience contributed to the cause of the African-American community. On her visit to the White House, President Obama said he wouldn’t be there without her experience and struggles.
She’s a philanthropist and activist
Bridges’ foundation helps to combat racism. She donates to different causes while using her experience to create awareness and combat institutional racism.
5 Surprising Facts
She is the eldest of eight children
Bridges is the eldest of eight children.
She thought it was Mardi Gras
On Bridges’ first day of school, she thought the crowd was celebrating Mardi Gras.
She didn’t flinch
Despite the derogatory comments and assault by the whites, Bridges showed exemplary courage and marched into the school.
She was alone for a year
Bridges was the only child in her class for a year until the angry mob subsided.
Robert Coles’ relative sent her clothing
During her first few weeks at William Frantz Elementary, the relative of her child psychologist, Robert Cole, sent her the immaculate clothing she wore.
Ruby Bridges FAQs
Where is Ruby Bridges today?
Bridges still resides in New Orleans with her family.
Is Barbara Henry still alive?
Mrs. Henry, the only teacher that opted to teach Bridges, is still alive and now retired.
Did Ruby Bridges’ parents get a divorce?
Following the stigma and hardship they faced for sending Bridges to an all-white school, Abon and Lucille Bridges separated.
Ruby Bridges’s birthday dates