The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles is a true story about one of the first African-American girls to attend an all-white school in New Orleans after desegregation. Through Coles’ words and George Ford’s illustrations, readers are enticed by Ruby’s courage and willingness to face adversity.
Ruby Bridges’ family moved from Mississippi to New Orleans in 1957. Her family was very poor and her mother and father worked long hours to provide for their family. The family was very religious and went to church every Sunday. In New Orleans, black children and white children went to separate schools. This was not right and against the nation’s law. In 1960, a judge ordered Ruby and a few other black girls to attend white elementary schools. Ruby had to attend William Frantz Elementary School, alone. Large crowds of angry people gathered around Frantz Elementary on Ruby’s first day. They yelled names at her, held signs, and some even wanted to hurt her. She was ushered by federal marshals through the crowds and into the school.
The routine of walking through mobs to get to school lasted for months. Yet, Ruby never got discouraged. Even though she was the only student in the room, as white families did not want to send their children to school with black students, Ruby’s determination to learn never faltered. She walked into Franz Elementary and into the empty classrooms every day, ready to learn from her teacher, Mrs. Henry. Ruby would pray everyday for the angry protesters to change their views. One day she forgot to pray before she reached the angry mobs, so she stopped right in front of them and said a prayer.
Eventually white children started joining Ruby at school and the angry mobs disappeared. Children of all races began to attend schools in New Orleans, together.