Ruby Bridges | Biography, Quotes & Facts | (2024)

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Ruby Bridges became a civil rights activist at the young age of six when she was chosen to attend an all-white elementary school in the South. In the 1960s when Bridges was a young child, segregation and discrimination ran rampant in the Southern States of the United States of America. Bridges is famous for being the youngest person to desegregate an all white school in the South.

Early Life

Ruby Nell Bridges was born on September 8, 1954 to Abon and Lucille Bridges. She was born in the small town of Tylertown, Mississippi. It is a remarkable coincidence that Bridges was born the same year the verdict of the Brown v. Board of Education case required all public schools to desegregate. Bridges was the oldest of five siblings. Her parents and grandparents lived and sharecropped on a small farm in Mississippi. The family struggled to make ends meet, and when Bridges was four years old, her parents and siblings moved to New Orleans, Louisiana in search of better job opportunities and a better life.

Ruby Bridges' parents were hard working people who constantly strove to provide for their growing family. Her father, Abon, worked as a gas station attendant, and her mother worked several various night jobs.

Bridges started school in 1959 as a kindergartner in an all-Black school several miles from her home. With the federal push of desegregation, many schools in the South scrambled to find ways to keep schools segregated. That year, kindergartners across Louisiana were given performance tests to determine if they were smart enough to compete in all white schools. Bridges was one of six students that passed this test and would be allowed to enroll in an all-white school for the next year.


Ruby Bridges and her guard escorts leaving school in 1960.

Ruby Bridges | Biography, Quotes & Facts | (1)

Bridges' parents were uncertain about sending her to an all-white school since they knew the hostility she would face. Her mother decided it was the best decision for Ruby to receive the education that was not allowed to many before her. She enrolled in William Frantz Elementary School for her first grade year. Two of the six children that passed the performance test decided to remain at their all-Black schools, and the other three children attended McDonough Elementary School.

The first year of school at William Frantz Elementary was tremendously difficult for Bridges. She did not get to begin at the same time as other children, since the schools were trying to fight the federal mandate of allowing Black children into their schools. Bridges attended her old school, Johnson Lockett, until November 14, 1960 when she started at William Frantz. She was escorted to and from school each day by four court marshals assigned by President Eisenhower to ensure her safety. Crowds would line the entryway to the school shouting hatred and profanity at the six year old Bridges as she entered her new school. She remembers one woman holding a small coffin with a Black baby doll inside and becoming very scared and intimated by the crowds.

On her first day, she spent the entire day in the principal's office as parents of white children came and pulled them out of school for the day or permanently. There was only one teacher at the school that would agree to take Bridges as a student. First year teacher from Boston, Barbara Henry, became her only friend. Bridges was the only student in her class that year because parents of white children refused to allow their children to be in the same class. She spent the day, lunch, and recess time with Mrs. Henry in one classroom. Bridges, her parents, and even her grandparents felt the harsh resentment of Bridges attending a white school. Her father lost his job, and her grandparents were evicted from their sharecropping farm. The grocery store that the Bridges family shopped at stopped allowing them to make purchases. It was a difficult time for the whole family, and Bridges had a tremendously difficult time dealing with the ostracization and hate from the other children at school. The state appointed Dr. Robert Coles, a child psychologist, to visit with Bridges and help her deal with the issues she faced.

Bridges persevered, and the next school year was better for her. Slowly, teachers and other children accepted her as well as more and more Black children started the school. Her father found a new job, and the community started to show their support for her family. She completed elementary school and moved on to Francis T. Nicholls High School. She graduated high school at seventeen and went on to attend Kansas City Business School. She worked at American Express as a travel agent.

She married Malcom Hall in 1984 and later had four sons. She continued working as a civil rights activist.

Ruby Bridges Facts

  • Bridges was the youngest and first of the Black children to desegregate an all-white school in the South.
  • She has been a civil rights activist since the age of six.
  • She is the oldest of five children and was born into poverty.
  • She moved to New Orleans, Louisiana when she was four.
  • She graduated from Francis T. Nicholls High School.
  • She attended Kansas City Business School.

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Ruby Bridges | Biography, Quotes & Facts | (2024)


Ruby Bridges | Biography, Quotes & Facts | ›

“Don't follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail. When you start a new trail equipped with courage, strength and conviction, the only thing that can stop you is you!”

What are Ruby Bridges best quotes? ›

“Don't follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail. When you start a new trail equipped with courage, strength and conviction, the only thing that can stop you is you!”

What is Ruby Bridges' favorite color? ›

Wear purple! It's Ruby's favorite color. Ask your school to participate.

What happened to Ruby Bridges when she was 4? ›

When she was four years old, her family moved to New Orleans. Two years later a test was given to the city's African American schoolchildren to determine which students could enter all-white schools. Bridges passed the test and was selected for enrollment at the city's William Frantz Elementary School.

What are two quotes Ruby Bridges said? ›

Ruby Bridges Quotes
  • "Don't follow the path. ...
  • "Each and every one of us is born with a clean heart. ...
  • "My message is really that racism has no place in the hearts and in the minds of our children."

What did Ruby Bridges quotes mean? ›

The quote by The Story of Ruby Bridges, "Racism is a grown-up disease, and we must stop using our children to spread it," highlights the detrimental nature of racism and its impact on society.

What are 3 things Ruby Bridges is known for? ›

In November 1960, Bridges became the first Black student to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana — which is recognized as a pivotal moment in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. Bridges went on to become an author, speaker, and life-long civil rights activist.

What are two important facts about Ruby Bridges? ›

She was the first African American child to desegregate William Frantz Elementary School. At six years old, Ruby's bravery helped pave the way for Civil Rights action in the American South. Ruby was born on September 8, 1954 to Abon and Lucille Bridges in Tylertown, Mississippi. She was the eldest of five children.

Is Ruby Bridges black or white? ›

At the tender age of six, Ruby Bridges advanced the cause of civil rights in November 1960 when she became the first African American student to integrate an elementary school in the South.

What is Ruby Bridges' favorite color in 2024? ›

Woodson Book Award for writing about her experience. Despite unfavorable weather forecasts, schools remained steadfast in holding their event with thousands of students marching down the streets waving purple flags–Ruby's favorite color.

What is Ruby Bridges' fav food? ›

For dinner, they ate New Orleans or Southern food like red beans and rice. Sometimes, they had fried catfish or shrimp for dinner. Ruby's favorite desserts were banana pudding and sweet potato pie.

What did Ruby Bridges' dad do? ›

The Bridges family suffered for their decision to send her to William Frantz Elementary: her father lost his job as a gas station attendant; the grocery store the family shopped at would no longer let them shop there; her grandparents, who were sharecroppers in Mississippi, were turned off their land; and Abon and ...

Did Ruby Bridges have 4 sons? ›

Answer and Explanation:

Following her marriage to Malcolm Hall, Ruby Bridges had four sons. Her sons are named Sean Hall, Christopher Hall, and Craig Hall, as well as a fourth, publicly unnamed son. Bridges son Craig Hall was killed in a street shooting in New Orleans in 2005.

Did Ruby Bridges get married? ›

Ruby Bridges got married to Malcolm Hall and had four sons. In 1993, her brother was shot and killed in New Orleans. Ruby's family went to New Orleans to take care of his daughters. In 1999, she wrote a children's book, "Through My Eyes", telling her story and what she went through.

What was Ruby Bridges motto? ›

Ruby Bridges Foundation

Through education and inspiration, the foundation seeks to end racism and prejudice. As its motto goes, "Racism is a grown-up disease, and we must stop using our children to spread it."

What did Ruby Bridges say in her speech? ›

“Don't wait until…you come face to face with evil to learn this lesson,” Bridges said, “We all have a common enemy and it is evil. I refuse to believe there is more evil out there than good. There's more good. We just have to stand up.”

What was Ruby Bridges motivation? ›

A lifelong activist for racial equality, in 1999, Ruby established The Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance and create change through education.

What is Ruby Bridges inspiration? ›

Ruby Bridges is an inspiring reminder that our nation owes a huge debt of gratitude not just to the adults who took a stand during the Civil Rights Movement but to the extraordinary children and youths who were frontline soldiers in the war to overthrow Jim Crow in American life.

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