Nov. 14, 1960 | Six-Year-Old Ruby Bridges Integrates Elementary School Amidst Riots (2024)


On this dayNov 14, 1960

White Mobs Violently Riot Against Six-Year-Old Ruby Bridges Integrating Elementary School

Associated Press

On November 14, 1960, four federal marshals escorted six-year-old Ruby Bridges to her first day of first grade as the first Black student to attend previously all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana. A riotous white mob organized by the local White Citizens' Council gathered to protest her arrival, screaming hateful slurs, threats, and insults.

In August 1955, African American parents in New Orleans, Louisiana, sued the Orleans Parish School Board for failing to desegregate local schools in compliance with the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The following February, a federal court ordered the school board to desegregate the city’s schools. For the next four years, the school board and state lawmakers defied the federal court's order and resisted school desegregation.

On May 16, 1960, Judge J. Skelly Wright issued a federal order demanding the gradual desegregation of New Orleans public schools, beginning with the first grade—but the Orleans Parish School Board convinced Judge Wright to accept an even more limited desegregation plan, requiring African American students to apply for transfer into all-white schools. Only five of the 137 African American first graders who applied for a transfer were accepted; four agreed to attend, including six-year-old Ruby Bridges, who was the sole Black student assigned to William Frantz Elementary.

After getting past the angry white crowd to enter the school, Ruby arrived in her assigned classroom to find that she and the teacher were the only two people present; it would remain that way for the rest of the school year. Within a week, nearly all of the white students assigned to the newly integrated elementary schools in New Orleans had withdrawn.

Despite threats and retaliation against her family, including her grandparents’ eviction from the Mississippi farm where they worked as sharecroppers, Ruby remained at Frantz Elementary. The next year, Ruby advanced to the second grade, and the school's incoming first grade class had eight Black students.

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Nov. 14, 1960 | Six-Year-Old Ruby Bridges Integrates Elementary School Amidst Riots (2024)


What elementary school did Ruby Bridges integrate? ›

On November 14, 1960, at the age of six, Ruby became the very first African American child to attend the all-white public William Frantz Elementary School. Ruby and her Mother were escorted by federal marshals to the school.

What happened on November 14, 1960? ›

On November 14, 1960, four federal marshals escorted six-year-old Ruby Bridges to her first day of first grade as the first Black student to attend previously all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana.

What was the desegregation crisis on November 14 1960? ›

On the morning of November 14, 1960, two New Orleans elementary schools began desegregation. Leona Tate, Tessie Provost, and Gail Etienne, enrolled at McDonogh 19 Elementary School, while Ruby Bridges enrolled at William Frantz Elementary School. They became known as The New Orleans Four.

What happened to Ruby Bridges on the first day of school? ›

She spent her first day in the principal's office due to the chaos created as angry white parents pulled their children from school. Ardent segregationists withdrew their children permanently. Barbara Henry, a white Boston native, was the only teacher willing to accept Ruby, and all year, she was a class of one.

When was the first school integrated? ›

Some schools in the United States were integrated before the mid-20th century, the first ever being Lowell High School in Massachusetts, which has accepted students of all races since its founding. The earliest known African American student, Caroline Van Vronker, attended the school in 1843.

What happened to William Frantz Elementary School? ›

While the former William Frantz Elementary building now houses Akili Academy, a charter school, Ruby's legacy is preserved at the site. A statue of Ruby stands in the school's courtyard, and classroom 2306 has been restored to the way it would have looked when she attended the school.

Why was school desegregation so explosive? ›

Desegregation created a high level of discord in society because it brought the values of the American dream into conflict. If Americans had not sincerely believed in the collective goals of the American dream, if they were not willing to make sacrifices for them, there would have been no victories.

What led to school desegregation in the 1960s? ›

After the ruling of Brown v. Board of Education, which banned segregated school laws, school segregation took de facto form. School segregation declined rapidly during the late 1960s and early 1970s as the government became strict on schools' plans to combat segregation more effectively as a result of Green v.

What happened in November 1960? ›

On November 8, 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected president in one of the closest elections in U.S. history. In the popular vote, his margin over Nixon was 118,550 out of a total of nearly 69 million votes cast.

What is Ruby Bridges' famous quote? ›

One famous quote by Ruby Bridges was from a speech given at the dedication of her new Ruby Bridges Foundation ceremony. She said, "Racism is a grownup disease. Let's stop using kids to spread it."

How were Ruby Bridges treated? ›

She showed unforgettable loving forgiveness and courage when faced with ugly screaming White mobs who jeered and taunted her every day as she walked into William Frantz Elementary School. Federal marshals had to escort Ruby to school every day, but she never quit or turned back.

Who escorted Ruby Bridges to school each day? ›

Ruby had to be escorted to school by federal mashals for the entire school year. She was the only student in the classroom with teacher Barbara Henry, the only teacher willing to accept her, and she spent most of her lunches and recesses alone. In spite of all this, Ruby showed up every day, ready to learn.

What was true about the William Frantz Elementary School? ›

19 Elementary School, it was involved in the New Orleans school desegregation crisis during 1960. NRHP reference No. William Frantz Elementary School was one of the first all-white elementary schools in the Deep South to be integrated when Ruby Bridges became the first African-American student to attend the school.

When was Ruby Bridges and the New Orleans school integration? ›

On November 14, 1960, a 6-year-old girl walked into William J. Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. That seemingly mundane moment would shake the community and change the city forever.

When were schools integrated in Louisiana? ›

The first successful school integration in Louisiana was in November 1960, when four federal marshals escorted 6-year-old Ruby Bridges through a jeering crowd of White protestors into an all-White elementary school in New Orleans.

Did Ruby Bridges go to school alone? ›

Bridges says she sees her 6-year-old self enduring a lonely and confusing year in the children's letters. After walking past mobs of protesters, Bridges attended classes alone — and did so for the full year. Some white families permanently withdrew their children from the school because Bridges was a student there.

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