BRAVE LITTLE RUBY

"Many of the boys carried signs and said awful things, but most of all I remember seeing a black doll in a coffin, which frightened me more than anything else."

-Ruby Bridges

BRAVE LITTLE RUBY

By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

November 14, 1960.
Six year old Ruby Bridges is escorted to William Frantz Public School by U.S. Federal Marshals in what becomes the daily routine of her first grade year.
She becomes the poster child of integration in Louisiana and is forced to endure horrific and abnormal treatment throughout.
"As we walked through the crowd, I didn't see any faces. I guess that's because I wasn't very tall and I was surrounded by marshals. People yelled and threw things."
-Ruby Bridges
------
Why was Ruby Bridges chosen?
Ruby's brilliant mind displayed itself openly on a test she recalled taking when she was five years old. The test was deemed "impossible to pass", and was created with the goal of displaying inferior intelligence.
 Ruby passed ...
The passing of the test and the brilliance of her beautiful mind would reserve "her" for strange and unbelievable events.
She was chosen by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), a highly respected civil rights organization, to be the individual who would usher integration into William Frantz Public School in Louisiana.
"Let us get out of the car first," the marshal said. "Then you'll get out, and the four of us will surround you and your daughter. We'll walk up to the door together. Just walk straight ahead, and don't look back."
-U.S. Federal Marshal
-------
Resilience. Innocence. Courage. Faith.
Ruby possessed these qualities in wondrous quantity.
"My mother brought us up to believe that God is always there to protect us. She taught us there is a power we can pray to anytime, anyplace."
------
Ruby experienced a lengthy period of isolation, abandonment and aloneness.
A school composed of 500 plus students emptied itself and segregationist teachers and the lead Principal displayed nothing but disdain for Ruby and her teacher;
Ruby was a single student in a classroom by herself.
Had it not been for Mrs. Henry, a brave and courageous first grade teacher, one wonders what might have become of beautiful Ruby.
God's tender providence shed a ray of light on the child and the teacher in the midst of this very black darkness.
"There was a certain shyness about Ruby. She would appear at the door of our room in the morning and walk in slowly, taking little steps. I would always greet her with a compliment about how nicely she was dressed to help make her feel special, as she was, and to make her feel more welcome and comfortable. We would hug, and then we would sit down side by side. We had our corner of the room, and it was cozy. I never sat in the front of the classroom apart from her. If I went to the the blackboard, she was always right there with me. I grew to love Ruby and to be awed by her. It was an ugly world outside, but I tried to make our world together as normal as possible. Neither one of us missed a day. It was important to keep going."
-Barbara Henry / Elementary teacher
-----
*Barbara Henry endured death threats, taunts, and vile behavior the entire year she taught Ruby. She departed from the school, after that year, with a spirit mixed of disillusionment and profound sadness.
"After I left New Orleans, I knew the school was not a place where I was welcome. The principal had made it clear my association with that school was complete. I was never extended an invitation to return. But I used to wonder how Ruby was doing."
-Barbara Henry
-------
Ruby's lonely battle as "head" of integration in a public school helped break down the barriers of racial discrimination and segregation.
Successive years would display marked improvement and progress in the attaining of equal rights, and Ruby's early steps would prove foundational and formidable in procuring them.
Courage, bravery, and resilience composed a brilliant six year old, leaving us inspired and in awe of what such qualities might attain ... at any age and in any stage of life.
-------
In 1995 The Story of Ruby Bridges was published and a television series aired.
"As a grown woman, I watched the public television series 'Eyes on the Prize,' about the civil rights movement, and my mother had to point out that some of the old film footage was of me. It's taken me a long time to own the early part of my life.
I don't know where events will go from here, but I feel carried along by something bigger than I am. For a long time I was tempted to feel bitter about the school integration experience, not understanding why I had to go through it and go through it alone. Now I know it was meant to be that way ...
In all of this, I feel my part is just to trust in the Lord and step out of the way. For many years, I wasn't ready to be who I am today, but I've always tried not to lose my faith. Now I feel I'm being led by just that -- faith -- and now I'm closer at being at peace with myself than I have ever been."
-Ruby Bridges
--------
 "I now know that experience comes to us for a purpose, and if we follow the guidance of the spirit within us, we will probably find that the purpose is a good one."
-Ruby Bridges.