Civil Rights icon Ruby Bridges made history at just six years old. She was the first Black student to attend an all-white school in 1960. Now she’s sharing her inspiring story with young readers through a brand-new children’s book.
In “I Am Ruby Bridges,” the activist’s life is told from the viewpoint of her 6-year-old self. It describes the difficulties she encountered as the first Black student to enroll at New Orleans’s all-white William Frantz Elementary School.
Bridges was born in Tylertown, Mississippi, in 1954, the same year the U.S. Supreme Court decided the landmark Brown vs. the Board of Education case and ended racial segregation in schools.
She told NBC News she was the target of racial epithets, harassment and bullying from adults at school. Bridges shared one instance with the news outlet where a white woman held a Black doll in a coffin, which terrified her. Many white parents removed their children from the school due to her enrollment.
Bridges wants her book, which includes a glossary to help young readers learn new words like “Supreme Court” and “law,” to help teach important lessons to the next generation.”It is important for all children to know all of our history, good or bad,” Bridges, now 67 years old, told NBC News. “It is our shared history in this country and because of it, we should all know that history.”
The civil rights icon has published multiple books documenting her integration experience, including “Through My Eyes” and “This Is Your Time.” She hopes to encourage young people to learn about America’s troubled past through her latest illustrated children’s book.
“The fact that my own introduction to racism came from this experience at just six years old while integrating the Frantz school is why this project is so important to me,” she said. “Because of the current climate around race relations, I feel that it is a calling for me to help teach that same age and to tell them my story.”