As a young student, close to the same age as many of your own students, Ruby Bridges displayed immense courage and bravery in 1960 by facing a down a mob of segregationists outside her elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a result, she led the charge for integration in the Deep South, becoming the first African-American child to integrate an all-white elementary school in the region.
Explore books about Rudy Bridges and more leaders of of the civil rights movement with these books.
Here a few more facts you and your students may or may not know about this famous civil rights icon:
1. In 1960, Ruby was only six years old when she integrated her new elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana.
2. Federal Marshals had to protect Ruby when she entered the school.
3. Ruby was the only student at school that day. White parents didn't send their children to school and many white teachers walked out in protest. Ruby did not have class that first day.
4. The next day a white teacher began teaching her. Ruby was the only student at the school for the rest of the year.
5. When Ruby began second grade, her school was completely integrated.
6. Growing up, Ruby continued to advance civil rights causes and even started a foundation to promote social justice and racial harmony.
7. In 2001, President Bill Clinton presented her with the Presidential Citizens Medal.
If you’re looking for a few additional stories to help your students learn about Ruby’s life and understand what segregation and inequality once looked like in America, these 2 books are a great place to start:
The Story of Ruby Bridges
This story gives young readers a glimpse into the life of Ruby and what she and her family had to endure to fully integrate her elementary school. It wasn’t just walking into her school that first day that led to integration, it was Ruby’s courage and determination to return to school each day that sparked change.
Through My Eyes
Through My Eyes is another account of Ruby’s story, shared in her own words. By reading, your students will gain a better understanding of the prejudice and discrimination Ruby faced as a young child in the Deep South, and the courage and bravery she had to tap in order to overcome those barriers to equal rights.
As a follow-up to their reading, consider this Ruby Bridges: Text & Organizer to help students reflect on the life of Ruby Bridges and learn more about the themes, main ideas, and vocabulary critical to the civil rights movement. Included is a two-page nonfiction article and biographical graphic organizer to help young readers show off what they’ve learned. This pack is free to subscribers of Scholastic Teachables or is available for individual purchase. Log in or subscribe today!