15 Fun Facts about Ruby Bridges

Who is Ruby Bridges?

Ruby Bridges is a civil rights activist from the United States. During the New Orleans school desegregation crisis on November 14, 1960, she was the first African-American youngster to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana.

15 Fun Facts about Ruby Bridges

1. When Ruby Bridges was a little girl, she was active in the civil rights struggle. Bridges was one of six black students in New Orleans who passed the test determining whether or not they could attend the all-white school in early 1960.

2 Ruby Nell Bridges was born in Tylertown, Mississippi, on September 8, 1954. She was the oldest child in a family of five, and her family relocated to New Orleans when she was four years old so that her parents for a better job. 

3. She was born in 1954 when Brown v. Board of Education eliminated “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. 

William Frantz Elementary School building

4. Three other small Black girls were in first grade in another New Orleans white school when Ruby started. One of them was Ruby, and she was selected to attend the William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. When Ruby was in kindergarten, a federal court declared that New Orleans schools needed to integrate or allow both Black and white pupils to attend.  

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

6. Parents did not want their children to attend the same school as African-American students. They screamed and threatened Ruby; even white parents yelled threats against her from the audience. 

7. The marshals drove her to and from school for the following six months. Attempts were made to harm her family. Her father was laid off, and her grandparents were forced to sell their Georgia farm. The neighborhood corner store turned them down. 

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

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

Norman Rockwell The Problem We All Live With 

10. There is a message in the painting. If you look at the painting, you can’t see the Marshall’s face because the painting intentionally crops out their faces. Take note of the background. a broken and smeared tomato hurled against the wall, as well as racial obscenities such as “N-word” and “KKK.” Mr. Rockwell utilized a local girl, Lynda Gunn, and his cousin as the model for his painting, which Ruby Bridges inspired.

11. Since most white parents no longer allowed their children to attend school, Ruby spent most of the year as the sole student in her first-grade class. She and her teacher, Barbara Henry, became great friends as they worked together.

12. On her second day at Frantz school, every staff member refused to teach Ruby, except one – Mrs. Barbara Henry.

Ruby Bridges photo credit: Wikipedia

13. 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. 

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

15. She also wrote a book called Through My Eyes in 1999, which recounted her experiences.


Ruby Bridges was six years old when she entered a segregated school. She now teaches children how to overcome racial prejudices. She is now a civil rights speaker, author and advocate.

I think the lesson that I learned is that you can’t look at a person and judge them. That you have to allow yourself an opportunity to really get to know them, no matter what they look like.” – Ruby Bridges

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