Ruby Bridges and the 1960 New Orleans School Crisis
HIST 307: Louisiana History
April 10, 2018
Throughout American history blacks have faced many struggles and obstacles, whether it was the right to vote, slavery, and even segregation. When I was six years old I attended C.T. Janet Elementary School experiencing a lot of diversity and equality. Being able to experience equality within my education, I would like to give thanks to Ruby Bridges. She was one of the youngest contributors to the Civil Rights Movement who taught society that being strong-minded and having courage has no size or age barrier.
It was no coincidence that on September 8, 1954, the same year that the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decided to desegregate schools, Ruby Nell Bridges was born into the world. Before Ruby reached the age where she could make a change in the world,
“The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision, the US Supreme Court found that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional and profoundly harmed African American children. Yet, the court did not insist on a specific program for the timely desegregation of the nation’s schools. Instead, it ordered local school districts to develop individual plans to desegregate “with all deliberate speed.”[footnoteRef:1] [1: Brown, Nikki "New Orleans School Crisis." In knowlouisiana.org Encyclopedia of Louisiana, edited by David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 2010–. Article published March 31, 2011. http://www.knowlouisiana.org/entry/new-orleans-school-crisis.]
Throughout the years, southern states continued to oppose integration and all black children were still attending segregated elementary schools. That was until 1960 when a “federal court ordered Louisiana to desegregate, the school district created entrance exams for African American students to see whether they could compete academically at the all-white school.”[footnoteRef:2] It was just like the literacy test because it was created to be difficult so that it would be hard for black kids to pass. If the black children failed the test then New Orleans schools would have been able to stay segregated longer. Thankfully six of the children, one being Ruby Bridges, passed the test being able to attend an all-white school. Two of the children were white and decided to stay in their own schools, three of the children were assigned to McDonough Elementary School, and Ruby was the only one assigned to William Frantz Elementary. “Ruby’s parents were having trouble deciding whether to let her attend the school because of her safety but realized that she would receive better educational opportunities that they were not able to receive.”[footnoteRef:3] Unknowingly, they had enough time to make their decision because the school board was holding back the process which postponed her admittance to November. [2: Michals, Debra. "Ruby Bridges." National Women's History Museu...