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Ruby Bridges, full name Ruby Nell Bridges Hall [born September 8, 1954], is an American civil rights activist known for being the first African-American to attend an all-whites school in New Orleans in 1960. Keep reading for the comprehensive on site fact file detailing the wonderful life of Ruby Bridges or download our entire worksheet bundle to teach in the home or classroom environment.
- Born in Tylertown, Mississippi, Ruby and her family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana when she was 4. Her parents, like her grandparents, were sharecroppers. Their move to New Orleans was in hope that they’d have a better life in a bigger city.
- Ruby was born the same year that the Supreme Court’s decision on the Brown v. Board of Education came out desegregating schools.
- In kindergarten, Ruby was chosen one of the many African-American school kids to take the test that would determine if they could attend a white school or not. Accordingly, the test was made difficult so that the kids taking it would also have a difficult time passing. It was further said that if the black kids who took it failed, schools in New Orleans had a chance of staying segregated longer.
- The test was part of the request the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP] made in connection to the integration of the school system in New Orleans.
- Ruby’s father was reluctant to allow her to take the test. Her mother, on the other hand, felt that it was something they had to do. She wanted her child to have a better education and she convinced her husband by saying, “”take this step forward … for all African-American children”.
- Ruby was one of the six black kids in New Orleans who passed the said test. Two of these six chose to stay at their old school and the three others were transferred to McDonogh No. 19 and, later on, became known as the McDonogh Three.
- Ruby was the only one who had to attend William Frantz Elementary which was an all-white school five blocks away from her home. Prior to attending the school, Ruby went to an all-black school far from the place her family was living.
- As court ordered by Judge J. Skelly Wright, Ruby Bridges’ first day in her new school was November 14, 1960. That day, Ruby was taken to school by her mother and four federal marshals [assigned by the President Dwight Eisenhower to see her safety]. Two were in front of her and two behind as she walked to school. That iconic picture was commemorated by Norman Rockwell in a painting titled The Problem We All Lived In. It was published in Look magazine on January 14, 1964.
- Ruby went to school that fateful November 14 to the angry shouts of the white throng picketing outside William Frantz. In Ruby’s innocent, 6-year-old eyes, however, she thought New Orleans was just celebrating Mardi Gras.
“Driving up I could see the crowd, but living in New Orleans, I actually thought it was Mardi Gras. There was a large crowd of people outside of the school. They were throwing things and shouting, and that sort of goes on in New Orleans at Mardi Gras,” she described that day later on.
- On the first day Ruby went to William Frantz, she spent her the entire day inside the principal’s office. Parents of the students in the school pulled their children out and teachers refused to teach while Ruby was enrolled. Only one teacher agreed to teach the kindergartner. Barbara Henry was from Boston, Massachusetts and was new to William Frantz.
- For more than one year, Henry taught Ruby. And though the girl was along, she taught as if “she were teaching a whole class”.
- Later on, one of the US marshals, Charles Burks, recalled in an interview how brave Ruby was on her first day going to a former all-white school: “She showed a lot of courage. She never cried. She didn’t whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier, and we’re all very, very proud of her”.
- On November 15, the second day of the integration, a white student broke the boycott.
- Lloyd Anderson Foreman, 34, a Methodist preacher, took his 5-year-old Pam to school through the angry crowd saying that he just simply wanted to take his child to school. A few days later, other white parents followed Foreman and allowed their children to go back to William Frantz.
- Eventually, one woman threatened to poison her as she was on her way to school. So, the federal marshals assigned to see her safety only allowed Ruby to eat the foods she brought from home.
- Ruby saw a psychologist, Robert Coles, weekly during her first year at Frantz. Coles wrote a children’s book about Ruby’s life, entitled The Story of Ruby Bridges so that other children would know the little girl’s remarkable life story.
- Ruby’s family suffered a great deal when they decided to allow her to go to what was an all-white school. Her father lost his job and the grocery they went to get their supplies banned them from its premises. Even her grandparents, who were sharecroppers in Mississippi, lost their jobs as well.
- But there were people – both black and white – who helped Ruby and her family in those difficult times. Some white families continued to send their children to William Frantz even when the little black girl was already schooling there, a neighbor gave her father a new job, some locals baby sat them or watched out for their house while others walked behind the US marshals’ car on the way to school.
- Ruby went on to finish her elementary and high school years in desegregated schools in New Orleans. She got married [Malcolm Hall], had four sons and still resides in New Orleans working as a travel agent for 15 years before becoming a full-time parent.
- Ruby founded the Ruby Bridged Foundation in 1999. The foundation aims to “promote the values of tolerance, respect, and appreciation of all differences”.When asked what her group’s mission is, Ruby replied with “racism is a grown-up disease and we must stop using our children to spread it.”
- Aside from the Norman Rockwell painting, ruby’s experience being the first Black American girl to go to an all-white school was the subject of a Lori McKenna song [Ruby’s Shoes] and a made-for-TV movie in 1998 [Ruby Bridges].
- President Bill Clinton awarded Ruby with a Presidential Citizens Medal on January 8, 2001.
Ruby Bridges Worksheets
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Jim Crow Laws Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about Jim Crow which were state and locals laws used to enforce racial segregation in the southern states of the country [Southern United States]. These laws were enacted during the Reconstruction Era [Period] and continued on until 1965. The laws affected the lives of millions.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- Ruby Bridges Facts
- Ruby Bridges Word Search
- Ruby Bridges Crossword
- Word Scramble
- Think About It!
- What If?
- Dear Ruby…
- Stouthearted Ruby
- I Admire Ruby Because…
- Ruby Bridges’ Legacy
- Headline Analysis
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Link will appear as Ruby Bridges Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 11, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.