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Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges Hall (born Ruby Nell Bridges September 8, 1954, in Tylertown, Mississippi) moved with her parents to New OrleansLouisiana at the age of 4. In 1960, when she was 6 years old, her parents responded to a call from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and volunteered her to participate in the integration of the New Orleans School system. She is known as the first African-American child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South.[1] She attended William Frantz Elementary School at 3811 N Galvez St, New Orleans, LA 70117.[2][3]

Ruby Bridges, now Ruby Bridges Hall, still lives in New Orleans. For 15 years she worked as a travel agent, later becoming a full-time parent to her four sons. She is now chair of the Ruby Bridges Foundation, which she formed in 1999 to promote "the values of tolerance, respect, and appreciation of all differences". Her parents later divorced. Describing the mission of the group, she says, "racism is a grown-up disease and we must stop using our children to spread it."[10]

In 1993 Bridges Hall began looking after her recently orphaned nieces, then attending William Frantz Elementary as their aunt had before them. She began to volunteer as a parent liaison three days a week. Eventually, publicity related to Coles' children's book caused reporters to track down Bridges Hall and write stories about her volunteer work at the school, which in turn led to a reunion with teacher Henry. Henry and Bridges Hall now sometimes make joint appearances in schools in connection with the Bridges Foundation.[11]

Bridges is the subject of the Lori McKenna song "Ruby's Shoes." Bridges's childhood struggle at William Frantz Elementary School was portrayed in the 1998 made-for-TV movie Ruby Bridges. Bridges was portrayed by actress Chaz Monet; the movie starred Lela Rochon as Ruby's mother, Lucielle 'Lucy' Bridges, Michael Beach as Ruby's father, Abon Bridges as well as Penelope Ann Miller as Ruby's teacher, Mrs. Henry, and Kevin Pollack as Dr. Robert Coles.

On January 8, 2001, Bridges was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton.[12]

Like hundreds of thousands of others in the greater New Orleans area, she lost her home (in Eastern New Orleans) to the catastrophic flooding in the failure of the Federal levee system during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

In October, 2006, the city of 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 Bridges' life, along with the lives of Anne Frank and Ryan White.

In 2010, she had a 50th year reunion at Frantz Elementary with Pam Foreman Testroet, who, at age 5, was the first white child to break the boycott that ensued from Bridges' attendance at that school.[2] Bridges continues to tour as an inspirational speaker against racism.


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