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June 1, 2016

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#LoveTeachers: Ruby Bridges

If you’ve heard of Ruby Bridges, the first African American student to attend an all-white school in the American South, the name Barbara Henry is probably familiar too. Barbara Henry was Ruby’s favorite teacher—a role model who became one of Ruby’s lifelong inspirational heroes.

Photos: Ruby Bridges being escorted to William Frantz Elementary School, New Orleans, 1960; proclamation presented to Charles Burke, last living federal marshal to have escorted Ruby to school, by David Harlow, Deputy Director, U.S. Marshals Service; Ruby Bridges, Barbara Henry, and Judy Newman

In 1960, Barbara Henry was the only teacher willing to instruct young Ruby at the newly desegregated Frantz Elementary School. She welcomed the six-year-old girl with open arms even when other parents un-enrolled their children to protest Ruby’s admission.

Ruby vividly recalls how she and Barbara waded through mobs of angry white protestors to get to class. What amazes Ruby even today was Barbara’s willingness to boldly distance herself from other members of her race in both action and thought.

Citing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ruby ultimately credits Barbara for teaching her never to look at a person and judge them by the color of their skin, but instead by the content of their character. Now that is one powerful lesson!

 

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Ruby Bridges speaks at Scholastic’s annual breakfast at the annual IRA Conference 

Learn more about Ruby and Barbara’s inspirational story and race integration in our nation’s public school system by reading Ruby’s autobiographical book Through My Eyes, which is available online.

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