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Ruby Bridges Hall



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Ruby Bridges Hall In November 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges Hall became the first African American child to desegregate an elementary school. Although she only lived a few blocks from the William Frantz Elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana. Marshals had to escort Ruby because of angry segregationist mobs that gathered in front of the school. For an entire year, she was the only student in her class since white parents pulled their children from the school in protest. She wrote about her experiences in her book THROUGH MY EYES.

ONE YEAR IN AN ALL-BLACK SCHOOL

When it was time for me to start kindergarten, I went to the Johnson Lockett Elementary School. My segregated school was fairly far from my house, but I had lots of company for the long walk. All the kids on my block went to Johnson Lockett.

What I didn't know in kindergarten was that a federal court in New Orleans was about to force two white public schools to admit black students. The plan was to integrate only the first grade for that year. Then, every year after that, the incoming first grade would also be integrated.

In the late spring of my year at Johnson Lockett, the city school board began testing black kindergartners. They wanted to find out which children should be sent to the white schools. I took the test. I was only five, and I'm sure I didn't have any idea why I was taking it. Still, I remember that day. I remember getting dressed up and riding uptown on the bus with my mother, and sitting in an enormous room in the school board building along with about a hundred other black kids, all waiting to be tested.

Apparently the test was difficult, and I've been told that it was set up so that kids would have a hard time passing. If all the black children had failed, the white school board might have had a way to keep the schools segregated for a while longer.

Several people from the NAACP came to the house in the summer. They told my parents that I was one of just a few black children to pass the school board test, and that I had been chosen to attend one of the white schools, William Frantz Public School. They said it was a better school and closer to my home than the one I had been attending. They said I had the right to go to the closest school in my district. They pressured my parents and made a lot of promises. They said my going to William Frantz would help me, my brothers, my sisters, and other black children in the future. We would receive a better education which would give us better opportunities as adults.

Lucille, my mother, was convinced that no harm would come to us. She thought that the opportunity for me to get the best education possible was worth the risk, and she finally convinced my father.



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Excerpted from THROUGH MY EYES by Ruby Bridges. Published with permission from Scholastic Inc. All rights reserved.
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