- NAME: Ruby Bridges
- OCCUPATION: Civil Rights Activist
- BIRTH DATE: September 08, 1954 (Age: 59)
- Did You Know?: In 1960, Ruby Bridges became the first African-American child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South.
- EDUCATION: William Frantz Elementary School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: Tylertown, Mississippi
- Full Name: Ruby Nell Bridges Hall
- Maiden Name: Ruby Nell Bridges
- AKA: Ruby Bridges
- ZODIAC SIGN: Virgo
Best Known For
Ruby Bridges was the first African-American child to attend an all-white public elementary school in the American South.
Rosa Parks - Mini Biography (4:30)
Ruby Bridges visited President Barack Obama to see Norman Rockwell's painting hanging outside of the Oval Office. The painting depicts her walk to school on the day of school integration in New Orleans. Video courtesy of the White House.
After Rosa Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man, the African American community rallied behind her and refused to ride the segregated buses even if it meant walking to work.
A short biography of Rosa Parks.
Watch a state of the union address by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Think you know about Biography?
Answer questions and see how you rank against other players.Play Now
The image of this small black girl being escorted to school by four large white men inspired Norman Rockwell to create the painting "The Problem We All Must Live With," which graced the cover of Look magazine in 1964.
When Ruby and the federal marshals arrived at the school, large crowds of people were gathered in front yelling and throwing objects. There were barricades set up, and policemen were everywhere. Ruby, in her innocence,
first believed it was like a Mardi Gras celebration. When she entered the school under the protection of the federal marshals, she was immediately escorted to the principal's office and spent the entire day there. The chaos outside, and the fact that nearly all the white parents at the school had kept their children home, meant classes weren't going to be held.
On her second day, the circumstances were much the same as the first, and for a while it looked like Ruby Bridges wouldn't be able to attend class. Only one teacher, Barbara Henry, agreed to teach Ruby. She was from Boston and a new teacher to the school. "Mrs. Henry," as Ruby would call her even as an adult, greeted her with open arms. Ruby was the only student in Henry's class, because parents pulled or threatened to pull their children from Ruby's class and send them to other schools. For a full year, Henry and Ruby sat side-by-side at two desks working on Ruby's lessons. She was very loving and supportive of Ruby, helping her not only with her studies, but also the difficult experience of being ostracized.
Ruby Bridges's first few weeks at Frantz School were not easy ones. Several times she was confronted with blatant racism in full view of her federal escorts. On her second day of school, a woman threatened to poison her. After this, the federal marshals allowed her to only eat food from home. On another day, she was "greeted" by a woman displaying a black doll in a wooden coffin. Ruby's mother kept encouraging her to be strong and pray while entering the school, which Ruby discovered reduced the vehemence of the insults yelled at her and gave her courage. She spent her entire day, every day, in Mrs. Henry's classroom, not allowed to go to the cafeteria or out to recess to be with other students in the school. When she had to go to the restroom, the federal marshals walked her down the hall. Several years later, federal marshal Charles Burks, one of her escorts, commented with some pride that Ruby showed a lot of courage. She never cried or whimpered. "She just marched along like a little soldier."
The abuse wasn't limited to only Ruby Bridges; her family suffered as well. Her father lost his job at the filling station, and her grandparents were sent off the land they had sharecropped for over 25 years. The grocery store where the family shopped banned them from entering. However, many others in the community, both black and white, began to show support in a variety of ways. Gradually, many families began to send their children back to the school and the protests and civil disturbances seemed to subside as the year went on.
Learn more about the lives of African-Americans who have made extraordinary achievements in their fields, with our collection of Black History Groups.
Explore our curated collections of African-American figures, including:
profile name: Ruby Bridges profile occupation:
Sign in with Facebook to see how you and your friends are connected to famous icons.
Your Friends' Connections
Included In These Groups
Famous Virgoans 594 people in this group
African-Americans have a long history of activism in America, from fighting for the right to vote to pushing for integrated public spaces. Activists like Stokely Carmichael organized freedom rides, James Meredith fought to integrate blacks and whites at the University of Mississippi, and Rosa Parks instigated the Montgomery Bus Boycott. These protests were often legal and nonviolent, and made a powerful impact on civil rights in the United States. With the help of activists like these—and many others—the country slowly worked to acknowledge the basic rights and contributions of African-Americans. Activists outisde of the U.S. include Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, who have fought against apartheid in South Africa. Learn more about the many black activists who fought against the odds in order to achieve equality.
Famous Black Activists 152 people in this group
"Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best is love correcting everything that stands against love." Stated by legendary civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., these words represent a basic human philosophy to which black history's greatest leaders have passionately subscribed. Learn more about the world's most revered civil rights activists, known for their fight against social injustices and lasting impact on the lives of black citizens, including Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Nelson Mandela, Nina Simone, Mary McLeod Bethune, Lena Horne, Marva Collins, Rosa Parks, W.E.B. Du Bois, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.
Famous Civil Rights Activists 177 people in this group