Many of us know about Ruby Bridges by the 1964 Norman Rockwell painting titled "The Problem We All Live With". Four years before the painting appeared in Look magazine, Ruby Bridges, a six-year-old first grader, was the first and only black student to enter The William Frantz Elementary School. In early 1960, she had been one of six black children in New Orleans to pass the test that allowed her to go the all-white school. But in the end, the other five children did not go. Ruby was the only child who attended. She was escorted by her mother and four Federal Marshalls. Every day.
At school, she faced a mob of angry white parents, teachers who refused to teach her and the hatred extended into her home life. Her father and her grandparents lost their jobs. The Bridges' grocery store would no longer let her family shop there.
Ruby is one of, if not the bravest, six-year-old in history. I have wanted to make a Ruby doll for some time. I thought her story would inspire many little girls, and boys.
However, I did not expect my Ruby doll to have her own school story.
After posting a photo of Ruby, the doll, on Instagram and Facebook, a teacher contacted me to ask if Ruby was still available because her first-grade class had been studying Ruby. As we messaged back and forth, it turned out that she taught at the elementary school on my street (at the school all three of my children had loved). This was where Ruby belonged— in a first-grade classroom.
So last week, Ruby went to first grade again. She was greeted by wonderful posters about her. A display of books about her. And most of all a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable group of first graders. I heard that Ruby was kind, smart, proud, quiet, but most of all brave.
Thank you, Mrs. Greene, for the invitation and such a great idea. Ruby loves her new classroom.