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This Happened

This Happened—November 14: A First Step in Desegregation

Ruby Bridges walked into the first desegrated school on this day 62 years ago. Her story later became the subject of a famous Norman Rockwell painting, titled “The Problem We All Live With”.

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Who was Ruby Bridges?

Ruby Bridges became a hero of the U.S. Civil Rights movement on November 14, 1960 when she entered William Frantz elementary school in Louisiana, becoming the first African-American child to attend a traditionally all-white school in the deep south.

It was an act that required tremendous courage from the nine-year-old school girl, and would help progressively de-segregate public schools in the South.

What happened after Ruby Bridges entered the all-white school?

Her arrival sparked angry protests, and even after the protests subsided people continued to make threats on her life. Bridges was in constant danger and confined to a class and a teacher with no other students, since the other parents of the school refused to allow their children to be in class with her. Nevertheless, Bridges excelled in school and helped to pave the way for other African American children to get an education.

Her story later became the subject of a famous Norman Rockwell painting, titled “The Problem We All Live With”. The painting recalls images of Ruby Bridges being escorted to school, like the ones in the photo, while also representing the persistent threats against her as graffiti on the wall behind her. It now resides in the White House.

Where is Ruby Bridges now?

Ruby still lives in New Orleans, where she runs the Ruby Bridges Foundation to help troubled children at William Frantz and other schools. Ruby travels around the United States advocating for the importance of education and integration of students in schools.

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