Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ruby Bridges Integrated the Schools, But Her Parents Were the Brave Ones

And never one to disappoint, my favorite show, Sunday Morning, came with it this past weekend with a story about the 50th anniversary of little Ruby Bridges' brave march up the steps of and into the William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans—a solemn, scary walk that made her the first black child to integrate a public school in the South. The picture of Ruby Bridges flanked by federal marshals and walking past throngs of white anti-integrationists—cowardly adults who took time out of their busy days to jeer, threaten and scare the crap out of a 6-year-old brown baby—is an iconic symbol of a civil right that is forever etched into America's law books: Black children deserve and have the right to study, learn, grow, and get a quality education in the same classrooms as white children.

But while we celebrate Ruby and remember her bravery, I think it important to remember the two people who gave that child her heart: Lucille and Abon Bridges. See, they were the ones who made the decision to dress their brown baby in that pretty dress and send her on out the front door—to let their daughter leave the safety of their loving arms to take those measured, dangerous steps toward a better education, not only for herself, but for all African-American children.

Watch the Sunday Morning segment, replete with footage of the crazy that circled like buzzards over that little girl's head, and you understand just how big were her parents. Honestly, I don't know that I could have sacrificed my baby for the cause, knowing that that walk could have been her last.

So to Lucille and Abon Bridges, and their lovely daughter, Ruby, I simply say, "Thank you."

And after you watch the Sunday Morning story for yourself—it includes an update on Ruby, the school, and a sweet reunion between Ruby and the sole white child whose father allowed her to attend the school with the black kid—consider showing it to your babies. Mari and Lila watched with wide eyes and closed mouths. It's one thing to hear the story—a whole 'nother to actually see it played out.

We must never forget.

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  1. Thank you for posting that. I had never seen the live footage - just the stills. Truly jaw-dropping. It pays to remember that this was not so long ago - easy to think of it as ancient history. How much longer will it take?

  2. Yeah great post, we have so much farther to go.

    Peace, Love and Chocolate

  3. Thanks, Denene, for making me cry at work.

  4. I'm a school teacher (third grade) and our students just read this story. Beautiful courage of all involved.

  5. Thanks for sharing. As the mom of a little girl, I couldn't imagine sending my daughter into the lion's den but I am so glad they did. If not for the Bridges, where would we be?

  6. As always, thank you for sharing. The bravery of those parents sending there little daughter through that hate-filled crowd was a miracle in itself. I cried just sending my children off to kindergarden their first days. Thank you to Ruby's parents, and also to Pam's father for taking a stand.

  7. Thank you so much for posting this. We have much to be thankful for...but there is more work to be done.


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