Ruby Bridges Profile
Ruby's amazing show of strength and courage has profoundly affected education in America today. Ruby Bridges was born in Mississippi in 1954, the same year the United States Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision ordering the integration of public schools.
Her parents decided to move to New Orleans because they heard of better opportunities in the city. In 1960, when Ruby Bridges was only six years old, she became one of the first black children to integrate New Orleans' all white public school system. Greeted by an angry mob and escorted by federal marshals, Ruby bravely crossed the threshold of this school and into history single-handedly initiating the desegregation of New Orleans' public schools. All of the white teachers, except for Mrs. Barbara Henry of Boston, refused to teach her. Ruby was her only student during the entire year as parents withdrew their children and boycotted the school. Angry protesters yelled at Ruby and held up intimidating signs and symbols as she walked into the building. Still, she held her head high as went to school every day never missing a day that whole year.
Her walk to the front door of William Frantz Elementary School was immortalized in Norman Rockwell's infamous painting, "The Problem We All Live With", in Robert Coles' The Story of Ruby Bridges, and in the Disney movie Ruby Bridges. In addition, she has published her own award-winning version of her story, Through My Eyes. Greatly in demand as a speaker, Ruby Bridges Hall brings her message to children and adults nationwide and leaves her audiences spellbound.
Ruby Bridges visited President Barack Obama at the White House to view Oval Office installation of the Norman Rockwell painting of her personal and historic milestone — "The Problem We All Live With."
She has dedicated much of her adult life to fighting bigotry and intolerance. Throughout her life, Ruby Bridges has been committed to ensuring that all children have an opportunity to receive a good education. She continues to work with the Ruby Bridges Foundation. Through educational programs, the Foundation serves as a national vehicle that emphasizes and promotes the values of tolerance, respect, and appreciation of differences. In doing so, it is the Foundation's hope to move first our children and then our society as a whole toward the elimination of racism and prejudice. Ms. Bridges was actively involved with First Book, a national nonprofit organization that gives new books to children from low-income families. In the aftermath of the recent Gulf Region hurricanes, Ms. Bridges served as a national spokesperson for Book Relief, a First Book initiative to provide books to children and adults affected by Katrina and Rita.
The Indianapolis Children's Museum has a special exhibit: "The Power of Children: Making a Difference", a permanent exhibit featuring the stories of Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Ryan White and the impact these children made on the world. The purpose of the Power of Children is to create a supportive environment where people can examine and discuss issues related to prejudice and discrimination and seek solutions to these problems. Historically accurate, immersive environments are recreated to reflect the place where each of the children spent their lives. First-person interpreters, live theater and artifacts are designed to facilitate the public understanding of the lives of Frank, Bridges and White. The gallery has sounds, dramatic lighting, quotations, inter-actives and moving images to draw visitors into the exhibit.
Ms. Bridges, America's youngest civil rights icon, is the recipient of many honors and awards, including:
•Honorary Doctorate degrees from Connecticut College, College of New Rochelle, Columbia University Teacher's College, and Tulane University
•Honorary Federal U.S. Marshal Member of the Board of Directors of the Norman Rockwell Museum
•Co-chair, "A Campaign For Forgiveness Research" with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former President Jimmy Carter, and Robert Coles
•The Presidential Citizens Medal, bestowed by President Bill Clinton
•Ruby Bridges Elementary School first in the nation named in her honor dedicated October, 2006 in Alameda, CA
•Anti-Defamation League 2006 honoree for In Concert Against Hate
•The NAACP Martin Luther King award at the MLK Museum in May 2016
In 1998 Ruby published her award winning children's book: Through My Eyes.
•Jane Addams Peace Award National Parenting Publication Award
•ALA Notable Children's Book Riverbank Review Children's Book of Distinction
•NCTE Orbis Pictus Award Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
•NCSS Carter G. Woodson Book Award School Library Journal Best Book of the Year
•William Allen White Children's Book Award Booklist Editor's Choice
•Once Upon a World Children's Book Award Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
•Flora Stieglitz Book Award Blue Ribbon Award
•A Smithsonian Institution Notable Book Publishers Weekly Cullies Books of the Year, For Children Best Autobiography
•National Association of Parenting CBC/NCSS Notable Children's Book in the Field
•Publications Gold Award of Social Studies
In 2013, Ruby was honored with the inclusion of her likeness in an original sculpture by Mario Chiodo, The Remember Them: Champions for Humanity Monument. This inspiring larger than life bronze sculpture depicts 25 culturally diverse role models who have made significant contributions toward global peace, freedom and human rights over the past 150 years. Along with Ruby Bridges, among those depicted are Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Oskar Schindler, Maya Angelou, Cesar Chavez and Mother Teresa.
The Monument has been designed in four sections, cast in 60,000 pounds of bronze and stands 31 feet high and 52 feet long.
Remember Them is an epic undertaking for many reasons beyond its sheer scale – it is the first time international Champions have been depicted together in a single monument and dedicated to all of Humanity. Ruby is the only child represented in the sculpture.
"Racism is a grownup disease. Let's stop using kids to spread it." ~ Ruby Bridges
Today, Ruby is an adult who encompasses that rare commodity known as "living history. She has been featured on Oprah, Primetime, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, Good Morning America, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, CNN, and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Ruby has been the topic of stories in The New York Times, People magazine, Los Angeles Times, The Smithsonian Magazine and hundreds of other publications.