civil rights activist
Born: Sept. 8, 1954
Birthplace: Tylertown, Miss.
Born on Sept. 8, 1954 in Tylertown, Miss., Ruby Nell Bridges moved with her family to New Orleans in 1955 in search of better opportunities. What they found there was a changing world; desegregation went from a legal term to a reality for the 6-year-old who was among only six children in New Orleans to pass a screening test for admittance into the newly-desegregated public school system. Escorted by four federal marshals on her first day of first grade, Ruby Bridges made history when she walked through the crowd of militant segregationists and angry protesters and through the doors of William Frantz public school as the first and only black student. With only one teacher, Mrs. Henry, willing to teach a black student, and with no peers willing to learn alongside her, Ruby Bridges found herself in a class of one. Showing a steadfast and courageous spirit beyond her years, Ruby Nell never missed a day of school and showed the world she was a class apart.
Bonus: Learn more about Ruby Bridges through different media: Disney’s Ruby Bridges; a children’s book written by child psychiatrist Robert Coles, who befriended Ruby during her first grade year: The Story of Ruby Bridges; Ruby’s autobiography, Through My Eyes; and a painting by Norman Rockwell called The Problem We All Live With, which appeared on the cover of Look magazine on Jan. 14, 1964, and hung in the West Wing of the White House, just outside the Oval Office during the summer of 2011.