Yesterday, Civil Rights activist Ruby Bridges celebrated her 60th birthday. Every year, I teach my students about young Ruby and her courage while going to school. We read books and watch clips from the Disney movie telling her story.
As a classroom teacher in an racially diverse school, Ruby's story brings tears to my eyes every time I talk about it. My classroom is filled with students Ruby's age who all come to school ready to learn. When I watch the movie, I can't fathom the hatred that was targeted at such a young person.
This past summer, my husband and I were fortunate enough to travel to New Orleans. One rainy morning we rented a car and drove to William Frantz Elementary that Ruby attended. I have a few historic venues that have made me very emotional and this was definitely one of them. It was overwhelming to stand on the same sidewalk where so many parents yelled jeering comments and wanted to deny Ruby an education.
William Frantz was badly damaged during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (see link below on button for Huffington Post article). Although I did not get to go in, The Akili Academy now calls the William Frantz building home. New life and educational opportunities are alive and well in the school in the Upper Ninth Ward in New Orleans.
If you do not know Ruby's story, take the time to learn about it. As a teacher, it is especially moving and young students are really drawn to her experience.