The morning of November 14 federal marshals drove my mother and me the five blocks to William Frantz. In the car one of the men explained that when we arrived at the school two marshals would walk in front of us an two behind, so we’d be protected on both sides.
We spent that whole day sitting in the principal’s office. Through the window, I saw white parents pointing at us and yelling, then rushing their children out of the school. In the uproar I never got to my classroom.
November 14th, 1960 was the court-ordered date for the desegregation of New Orleans public schools. Ruby Bridges was one of the young students selected to integrate several public schools in the city. Three of these students went together to John McDonough Elementary, but Ruby Bridges went alone to her first day of first grade at William Frantz Public School. Teachers at William Frantz refused to teach a black student, and many parents pulled their white children out of school. The school hired a teacher from Boston, Barbara Henry, who taught Ruby the entire year in a class with no other students. You can read Ruby Bridge’s account of her education and experience on this day 52 years ago here.
From the blog archives: a brief biography of Ruby Bridges, “a New Orleans shero,” written by Tulane student Jasmine West.