A few weeks ago for Martin Luther King Jr Day, we watched the movie, Ruby Bridges.
It is such a wonderful movie. Mary Polly first saw it in elementary school and so we checked it out at the library and watched it as a family after she told us about it. Simon was a baby though, so he had not seen it before.
After we watched it, Ben pulled out our books about Ruby Bridges to show Simon and we’ve been reading them over the last couple of weeks.
Simon was even carrying them to bed with him. Love.
Ruby Bridges‘ story is one of my favorites of the Civil Rights Movement because of the way the faith of her family carried her through the difficult journey. As with many of the students who were brave enough to be the first to attend all-white schools, Ruby’s family sacrifice a lot to be a part of this historical moment. They were ostracized on both sides of the cause. The whole family drew strength from an inner source that enabled them to respond to the world in a way that is counter intuitive.
Ruby was six years old when she became the first black student to attend the formerly all-white William Frantz Public School in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was the fall of 1960.
The rest of the parents pulled their children out of school.
She spent the entire year walking through an angry mob to sit all alone in a classroom for first grade with her teacher Mrs. Henry.
This storybook tells how one day Ruby’s teacher saw her lips moving and thought she had finally decided to speak up to the white mob outside, but later discovered that she was actually praying for them. Usually she prayed for them before she got to school, but she had forgotten that morning so she stopped and prayed right in the middle of the mob.
Please, God, try to forgive those people.
Because even if they say those bad things,
They don’t know what they’re doing.
So You could forgive them,
Just like You did those folks a long time ago
When they said terrible things about You.
Ruby’s story of fighting through the year with prayer and a heart of forgiveness makes me cry every time. I just shake my head in wonder at her sweet spirit.
She is still working today to bring about racial reconciliation with schools.
She wrote her own story in another children’s book called Through My Eyes.
She puts her story within the context of the greater landscape of the Civil Rights Era, which makes it a great home or class resource for children.
Ruby Bridges was also the subject for Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting, The Problem We All Live With.
The kids and I are headed to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN this weekend. I have never been before, so I am excited.
I would love to hear about what others are doing this year during Black History Month, so please share! If you don’t have plans yet, be sure to add watching sweet Ruby Bridges to your list.