Ruby Bridges is an American activist known for being the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South. She attended William Frantz Elementary School.
She was one of six black children in New Orleans to pass the test that determined whether or not they could go to the all-white school.Her father was initially reluctant, but her mother felt strongly that the move was needed not only to give her own daughter a better education, but to “take this step forward … for all African-American children.” Her mother finally convinced her father to let her go to the school.
A woman at the school put a black baby doll in a wooden coffin and protested with it outside the school, a sight that she has said “scared me more than the nasty things people screamed at us.” At her mother’s suggestion, she began to pray on the way to school, which she found provided protection from the comments yelled at her on the daily walks.
Child psychiatrist Robert Coles volunteered to provide counseling to Bridges during her first year at Frantz. He met with her weekly in the Bridges home, later writing a children’s book, The Story of Ruby Bridges
In October, 2006, the Alameda Unified School District dedicated a new elementary school to Ruby Bridges, and issued a proclamation in her honor.
In November 2006 she was honored in the Anti-Defamation League’s Concert Against Hate.
In 2007 the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis unveiled a new exhibit documenting her life, along with the lives of Anne Frank and Ryan White.