Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (2024)

Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges


*Originally published by Diana K in March 2022 and Updated by Vanessa R on April 2023 and Updated by Diana K in January 2024

Going to school is a routine that millions of children in the world observe every day. However, in 1960, Ruby Bridges’ trip to school became a historic moment in American history.

Ruby was one of the first African American children to attend a previously white-only elementary school in Louisiana.

Many southern restaurants, schools, businesses and other parts of the community were segregated at that time.

At the tender age of six, she was chosen for integration. Her walk to school that day was epic, she did so in the face of much opposition.

In fact, her mother and U.S. marshals had to escort her past the hostile crowd that hurled insults at her.

Ruby Bridges became another example of the power children have to stand up for what is right and help bring about change that makes our world a better place.

In the decades since she first stepped into that New Orleans school, Ruby has become a civil rights icon and continued her work to create a more open and equal society.

Here are 10 facts about a courageous girl whose every step moved forward the cause of civil rights.

1. Ruby Bridges was Her Family’s, First Born

Ruby Nell Bridges was born in Tylertown, Mississippi, on September 8, 1954. Bridges was the eldest of eight children born into poverty. As a child, she spent much time taking care of her younger siblings.

She grew up on the farm her parents and grandparents sharecropped in Mississippi.

When she was four years old, her parents, Abon and Lucille Bridges, moved to New Orleans, hoping for a better life in a bigger city.

Her father got a job as a gas station attendant and her mother took night jobs to help support their growing family. Soon, youngBridgeshad two younger brothers and a younger sister.

2. Ruby Bridges was Chosen for Integration

Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (1)Exhibit photo at the centre for human rights By Adam Jones- Wikimedia

She was born in 1954 whenBrown v. Board of Educationeliminated “separate but equal” education for African Americans, and the order was either ignored or blocked by southern states.

The “Little Rock Nine,” a group of nine Black high school students from Arkansas, enrolled in a white high school in 1957

Two years later a test was given to the city’s African American schoolchildren to determine which students could enter all-white schools.

Bridges passed the test and got selected for enrollment at the city’s William Frantz Elementary School

Her parents were informed that she would attend the local white school and begin the integration of black students with white students.

Her father was opposed to the idea fearing that her daughter would be harmed.

On the other hand, supported the opportunity for her girl to get a better education, she even walked with Ruby to school on the first day

The white parents of the school and community members were anti-integration.

Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (2)Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (3)

3. Ruby was Assigned 4 Federal marshals for her Safety

Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (4)

By DOJ – Wikimedia

At Frantz School, Ruby was the only black student. Four federal marshals, who were assigned to protect her, drove her to and from school.

The United States marshals were thereto protect Ruby who was just six yearsfrom the angry crowd of people who did not want her to go inside the school.

One of the marshals who escorted Ruby into the school that day said later, “She showed a lot of courage. She never cried.

Ruby didn’t whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier, and we’re all very proud of her.”

4. Ruby’s Parents Divorced due to Pressure

Ruby didn’t miss a single day of school that year, but her parents divorced by the end of the year.

Bridges’ entire family faced reprisals because of her integration efforts.

Her father was fired after White patrons of the gas station where he worked threatened to take their business elsewhere.

Abon Bridges would mostly remain jobless for five years. In addition to his struggles, Bridges’ paternal grandparents were forced off their farm (where they were sharecroppers).

Bridges’ parents divorced when she was 12. The Black community stepped in to support the Bridges family in finding a new job for Abon and babysitters for Bridges’ four younger siblings.

5. Ruby Bridges First Day in School is immortalized in Painting

Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (5)The painting at the white house by Pete Souza- Wikimedia

In the middle of the 20th century, the Civil Rights Movement brought much-needed change to the United States of America.

On the heels of the Harlem Renaissance, this movement emerged to end the discrimination against African Americans that had plagued the country since the end of the Civil War.

The Civil Rights Movement had the support of one unlikely advocate:Norman Rockwell a white artist known for his nostalgic views of “average America”

The Problem We All LiveWithstars Ruby Bridges, a six-year-old African American girl on her first day of class in a majority-white school.

Clutching school supplies and clad in a clean starched white dress, Bridges looks like any other student starting the first grade.

What surrounds the young girl, however, is not typical. Flanked by US Marshals and strolling before a wall covered in racist graffiti and a recently thrown tomato, it is clear that Bridges’ experience is exceptional and prompted by politics.

The story of her attending a white school is captured in Norman Rockwell’s artwork The Problem We All Live With which was installed in the White House duringPresident Obama’s term.

Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (6)Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (7)

6. Ruby Bridges was a Solo Student in First Grade

Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (8)Ruby Bridges Hall speaking at Algiers Point temporary branch library by Infrogmation – Wikimedia

Most white parents refused to allow their children to attend school, Ruby spent most of the year as the sole student in her first-grade class.

Consequently, She and her teacher Barbara Henry, became great friends as they worked together closely.

She could not go to the cafeteria or recess with the other students.

Furthermore, a federal marshall had to escort Ruby to the restroom.

Parents gradually became less enraged and fearful, and their children were allowed to return to Frantz School.

The children returned the following year, and the school was fully integrated.

7. Ruby Bridges Foundation

She founded the Ruby Bridges Foundation, a foundation that promotes understanding and harmony among youngsters, in 1999.

Ruby Bridges created the “Ruby Bridges Foundation” to help end the fight against racism.

New Orleans is the home of the Ruby Bridges Foundation

The foundation’s purpose is to promote respect and equal treatment to all races or all differences.

The foundation’s primary initiative is to create a school intheWilliam FrantzElementary building that will serve as a model for integration and equity in education. It will create a learning environment that brings children together so that they can do what previous generations have not been able to do: embrace our racial and cultural differences so that we can moveforward.”

Ruby continued to advance civil rights causes and even started a foundation to promote social justice and racial harmony.

Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (9)Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (10)

8. Ruby Bridges is an Author

Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (11)At the Mayo Speaker Series by Texas A&M uni- Wikimedia

Ruby is a real person who became an indelible image of American history.

She was that six-year-old girl, painted by Norman Rockwell, who was escorted into school by stout U.S. marshals, when she became the first Black student at the William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans on November 14, 1960.

She has written 5 books; Through My Eyes in 1999, which recounted her experiences.

Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True Story, This is Your Time, Let’s Read About Ruby Bridges (Scholastic first biographies) and I am Ruby Bridges.

9. Ruby Bridges Worked as a Travel Agent

Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (12)By Dylan Agbagni – Wikimedia

Bridges graduated from an integrated high school in New Orleans and still resides in the city.

She later became a travel agent and was one of the first African Americans to work for American Express in New Orleans.

She worked as a travel agentfor fifteen years before becoming a stay-at-home mother.

In 1993 she began working as a parent liaison at the grade school she had attended. In 1999 she formed the Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance and unity.

She married, had four sons and worked as a travel agent.

She reunited with her first teacher Henry in the mid-1990s and carried out speaking engagements together.

10. Ruby Bridges Received a Presidential Honour

In 2001, President Bill Clinton presented her with the Presidential Citizens Medal.

Executive Order 11494 of 1969, established the Presidential Citizens Medal.

The President of the United States awards the medal in recognition of U.S. citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for the nation.

The President may bestow the medal upon any citizen of the United States including posthumously.

Her citation read:

As a small, brave child, Ruby Bridges walked with courage past angry protestors and into the history books as the African American child who integrated her New Orleans school. Forty years later, she continues to show that same courage, rejecting bitterness to bring a message of love, faith, and acceptance to a new generation of Americans.

The Presidential Citizens Medal is the second-highest civilian award in the United States.

She was among the African-American students to attend an integrated school. However, there is so much more to Ruby’s past and determined personality. As a lecturer, Ruby brings her message to children and adults nationwide.

She established the Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote the values of tolerance, respect and appreciation of all differences through educational programs.

Ruby Nell Bridges Hall isan American Hero. She was the first African American child to desegregate William Frantz Elementary School.

At six years old, Ruby’s bravery helped pave the way for Civil Rights action in the American South.

Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (13)Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (14)

11. Ruby graduated from an integrated high school

Ruby Bridges attended an integrated high school and eventually graduated after completing elementary school. Later, she continued her education by enrolling at the Kansas City Business College. It wasn’t always rosy for Ruby and she even anticipated quitting her education and giving up her career but instead, she overcame the obstacles she faced in a world that didn’t expect her to.

12. A statue was made to honour Ruby in 2011

A statue of Ruby Bridges was unveiled in 2011 at the New Orleans schoolyard of William Frantz Elementary. The statue is a reminder of Ruby’s tenacity and bravery while she attended the school and the challenges that she had to go through to pave the way for other African American children. It also pays tribute to her activism and legacy as a beacon of hope for the next generations to come.

13. Ruby met her former teacher Barbara Henry for the first time after 30 years

Barbara Henry had been Ruby’s teacher for more than 3 decades and when other teachers refused to teach her Barbara acted as little Ruby’s support system, their reunion in 1999 showed the role that this one teacher played in her life. The two women had an emotional reunion where Ruby was thankful to the woman who defied all odds to give her a high-quality education.

14. Ruby’s father lost his job because his daughter attended the school

Abon Bridges, Ruby Bridges’ father, was fired as a result of community backlash and racism when she started attending the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. Because of his daughter’s enrollment at the school, many of his old white clients shied away from doing business with him. Even though this made it more challenging for them to make ends meet, they remained dedicated to Ruby’s education and future.

15. There is a film about her

Afilm based on Ruby Bridges’ life called “Ruby Bridges” was released in 2000. The film follows Ruby’s journey as she enrols in a New Orleans elementary school that is exclusively white for the first time as an African American student.

The movie highlights the difficulties and trials Ruby went through during this period, including the intimidation and hatred she encountered from the locals. The film also emphasises Ruby’s family’s constant support and the great contribution Ruby’s teacher, Barbara Henry, made to her education and personal development.

16. Ruby Bridges’ Connection with Other Civil Rights Figures

Her enduring impact on the Civil Rights Movement is exemplified by her collaborations with other influential figures. Beyond her own journey, Bridges played a pivotal role in a dynamic network of activists, working alongside iconic individuals such as Rosa Parks and Malcolm X. These partnerships symbolized a united front against racial injustice, transcending individual struggles for a collective push towards equality. Bridges’ ability to bridge gaps and forge alliances within the movement showcased her as a unifying force, contributing not only to her triumph but also to the broader quest for civil rights.

17. President Obama Invited Her to his Inauguration

Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (16)

Office of Kamala Harris, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ruby Bridges’ attendance at President Barack Obama‘s 2009 inauguration was a poignant moment in civil rights history. Her presence symbolized the tangible progress made since her groundbreaking entry into an all-white school in 1960. By being part of this historic event, Bridges became a living testament to the strides made in the ongoing fight for civil rights, emphasizing the importance of breaking racial barriers and fostering inclusivity at the highest levels of government.

18. International Recognition for Ruby Bridges Contributions

Ruby Bridges’ narrative has transcended geographical boundaries, resonating globally and earning her international acclaim. Her courage in confronting systemic racism has served as a beacon for social justice movements worldwide. Bridges’ recognition and awards on an international scale underscore the universal significance of her contributions to civil rights. It emphasizes that her story is not confined to a specific time or place but holds relevance for people globally, inspiring them to stand against discrimination and inequality.

19. Children can Learn More about Her at the Indianapolis Museum Exhibit

Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (18)

Valerie Everett, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has curated an illuminating exhibit dedicated to Ruby Bridges, offering a comprehensive portrayal of her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. This exhibit not only showcases the pivotal moments of her journey but also delves into the broader historical context, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the challenges she faced and the societal impact of her actions. By preserving and presenting Bridges’ story in this manner, the museum not only honors her legacy but also educates and inspires visitors, fostering a deeper appreciation for the ongoing fight for civil rights.

20. She will be Inducted to the National Women’s Hall of Fame

Ruby Bridges’ is slated for induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in March 2024 alongside Serena Williams. It is a monumental honor that acknowledges not only her achievements but also her broader impact on women’s rights and racial equality. By joining the ranks of influential women, Bridges’ induction will highlight her role as a trailblazer, breaking down barriers for future generations of women. This recognition will ensure that her legacy continues to inspire and empower, emphasizing the interconnected struggles for gender and racial equality.

Ruby Bridges 60 Years Later: Her Achievements and Initiatives

In the six decades since Ruby Bridges courageously paved the way for desegregation in American schools, her impact has extended far beyond that pivotal moment in history. Ruby Bridges, now an advocate and symbol of resilience, has dedicated her life to various initiatives that continue to make a difference. Here are some key achievements and initiatives that highlight her remarkable contributions:

  • Educational Advocacy

    • Establishing the Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance, respect, and appreciation of differences among students.
    • Spearheading educational programs aimed at fostering inclusivity in schools and encouraging open dialogue on diversity.
  • Civil Rights Activism

    • Participating in numerous civil rights events, conferences, and workshops to share her personal experiences and insights on the ongoing struggle for equality.
    • Collaborating with organizations dedicated to civil rights, such as the NAACP, to address systemic issues and advocate for policies that promote equal opportunities for all.
  • Literary Contributions

    • Authoring several books, including her autobiography Through My Eyes, which provides a firsthand account of her journey and the challenges she faced during the desegregation of schools.
    • Collaborating on educational materials for children that emphasize the importance of tolerance and understanding, ensuring that her story continues to inspire younger generations.
  • Global Impact

    • Expanding her advocacy beyond national borders, engaging with international organizations to address global issues related to discrimination, education, and human rights.
    • Participating in conferences and forums to share her experiences and insights on building inclusive societies on a global scale.
  • Philanthropy

    • Establishing scholarships and grants to support underprivileged students, providing them with opportunities for higher education and empowering them to overcome societal barriers.
    • Collaborating with charitable organizations to fund initiatives that focus on eradicating educational disparities and promoting diversity in educational settings.
  • Public Speaking Engagements

    • Delivering inspirational speeches at schools, universities, and public events, encouraging audiences to embrace diversity, reject discrimination, and strive for positive social change.
    • Using her platform to amplify the voices of marginalized communities and advocate for policies that dismantle systemic inequalities.

At 69 years old, Ruby Bridges continues to be a vocal advocate for equality and remains actively involved in her foundation’s work. Her achievements and initiatives, spanning six decades, stand as a testament to her unwavering commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable society. Her resilience, and commitment to action serve as a powerful inspiration for us all. We must continue to carry her torch, working towards a world where Ruby Bridges’ story becomes not just a historical event, but a reality lived by every child.

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Top 20 Amazing Facts about Ruby Bridges (2024)

FAQs

What are some extra information about Ruby Bridges? ›

She married Malcom Hall in 1984 and later had four sons. She continued working as a civil rights activist. Bridges was the youngest and first of the Black children to desegregate an all-white school in the South. She has been a civil rights activist since the age of six.

What 3 things are Ruby Bridges famous for? ›

In November 1960, Bridges became the first Black student to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana — which is recognized as a pivotal moment in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Bridges went on to become an author, speaker, and life-long civil rights activist.

What is Ruby Bridges favorite color? ›

She is 25 years old. Her favorite color is also purple.

What is Ruby Bridges favorite food? ›

For dinner, they ate New Orleans or Southern food like red beans and rice. Sometimes, they had fried catfish or shrimp for dinner. Ruby's favorite desserts were banana pudding and sweet potato pie.

What did Ruby Bridges always do? ›

Ruby Bridges: A Pioneering Civil Rights Activist Who Continues to Inspire Today. Ruby Bridges is an extraordinary figure in American history, renowned for her unwavering commitment and bravery as she became the first African American child to integrate an all-white elementary school in the South.

What does Ruby Bridges do today? ›

After graduating from a desegregated high school, she worked as a travel agent for 15 years and later became a full-time parent. She is now chair of the Ruby Bridges Foundation, which she formed in 1999 to promote "the values of tolerance, respect, and appreciation of all differences".

What did Ruby Bridges face? ›

Ruby faced blatant racism every day while entering the school. Many parents kept their children at home. People outside the school threw objects, police set up barricades. She was threatened and even “greeted" by a woman displaying a black doll in a wooden coffin.

What happened to Ruby Bridges when she was 4? ›

When she was four years old, her family moved to New Orleans. Two years later a test was given to the city's African American schoolchildren to determine which students could enter all-white schools. Bridges passed the test and was selected for enrollment at the city's William Frantz Elementary School.

What is Ruby Bridges famous quote? ›

1. “Don't follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail. When you start a new trail equipped with courage, strength and conviction, the only thing that can stop you is you!”

What did Ruby Bridges teach us? ›

Learning that you can never judge anyone from the outside was the first lesson of that tumultuous year. A second was that we must all “become brothers and sisters.” “We must absolutely take care of one another. It does take a village, but we have to be a village first.

Who inspired Ruby Bridges? ›

Answer and Explanation: Malcolm Bridges's, Ruby's younger brother's, death inspired her to establish the Ruby Bridges Foundation. She is currently a promoter of education and helps educate destitute, orphaned, and needy children.

What color was Ruby Bridges dress? ›

In it, Ruby wears an immaculate white dress in sharp contrast to her dark skin. Her right hand is curled into a fist, emulating those of the marshals escorting her and she walks in lock-step with them.

Did Ruby Bridges go to college? ›

No, Ruby Bridges did not attend college. However, she has earned to honorary degrees for her work as a civil rights activist. Bridges' honorary degrees were awarded from Connecticut College and Tulane University.

What are 3 facts about Ruby Bridges childhood? ›

Ruby's parents and grandparents were sharecroppers in Mississippi before her family moved to New Orleans in search of better opportunity. In New Orleans, Ruby shared a bedroom with her younger sister and two younger brothers. Ruby enjoyed playing jump rope, softball and climbing trees when she was a child.

What are some facts about Ruby Bridges as a kid? ›

Bridges was the eldest of five children born to Abon and Lucille Bridges. As a child, she spent much time taking care of her younger siblings, though she also enjoyed playing jump rope and softball and climbing trees.

Did Ruby Bridges have any kids? ›

What is a fact about Ruby Bridges childhood? ›

Ruby Bridges was born in Tylertown, Mississippi on September 8, 1954. At the age of two, she moved to New Orleans with her parents, Abon and Lucille Bridges, to seek better opportunities for their family. When Ruby was in kindergarten, she was chosen to take a test to determine if she could attend an all-white school.

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