The time difference is exactly 60 years… Six-year-old Ruby Nell Bridges Hall had entered William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana, New Orleans on November 14, 1960! In a rare first, an African-American student had set foot on a school in American History. After six decades, a similar history has been created in the US. This time, the coloured lady is Kamala Harris!
A book, titled ‘Ruby Bridges: This is Your Time’, bridges the hiatus between 1960 and 2020… Sixty-six-year-old Ruby is now a Civil Rights activist. The Social Media have been flooded with an image of little Ruby and Kamala since the results of the US Presidential Elections were declared. Ruby, herself, has posted the creation of San Francisco-based artist Bria Goeller on her Social Media account. In the image, one can find six-year-old Ruby’s shadow on a white wall, standing next to Kamala!
In fact, The Problem We All Live With is a 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell. The work is considered to be an iconic image of the Civil Rights Movement in the US, as it depicts Ruby, a six-year-old African-American girl, on her way to William Frantz Elementary School, an all-White public school, on November 14, 1960, during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis. Due to threats of violence against her, she is escorted by four Deputy US Marshals. The painting is framed in a fashion that the marshals’ heads are cropped at the shoulders. Now, Goeller has given a new dimension to this painting, along with the movement.
Black students got the Right to Education in the US in the 1960’s. However, it was not well-received by the Whites. Talking to the media, Ruby recently said that 500 White students had left the school on the very first day! When Ruby was entering the school, hundreds of White parents were staging protests outside the school gate. They wanted the Black girl not to sit with their children in the same classroom!
In the midst of so much hatred, little Ruby had received support from her Class-teacher Barbara Henry, who had taught her alone, “as if she were teaching a whole class“, for over a year. When other teachers refused to teach Ruby, the little girl got to know that she would have to face a tough time. “Barbara came from Boston to teach me because teachers actually quit their jobs because they didn’t want to teach Black kids. I remember the first day meeting her, she looked exactly like the mob outside the classroom. So, I really didn’t know what to expect from her,” she said. Ruby told the press that the Principal did not allow White students to sit with her. Later, Miss Henry forced the School Authorities to change Ruby’s sitting arrangements. It was, then, the little girl got an opportunity to make friends.
Ruby, too, started her career as a teacher. The Civil Rights trailblazer has said: “None of our babies are born into the world knowing anything about disliking one another, or disliking someone because of the colour of their skin. Babies don’t come into the world like that. And so if babies are not born that way, then we as adults are the ones who are passing it on to them, and we have kept Racism alive.” On losing a son to violence, she stressed: “Well, you know, that’s a parent’s worst nightmare. And it never goes away. But when I lost my son, what was reiterated for me – because the person that took my son’s life looked exactly like him… I had an opportunity to really think about my work, and what came to mind is that good and evil comes in all shades and colours.”
Well, Ruby tells many such stories in her publication, This Is Your Time…
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