Happy 63rd birthday to civil rights pioneer Ruby Bridges!
In November 1960, 6-year-old Ruby became the first Black child to attend and desegregate an all-white elementary school in the South. Escorted into William Frantz Elementary School by four U.S. Marshals, little Ruby spent her first day of school waiting in the principal's office, where not one person spoke a word to her or her mother.
By the second day, white parents had removed their children from the school and Ruby became the only student in her class for an entire year. Despite facing a crowd of angry white citizens every day, Ruby returned each day and went on to become a civil rights hero who paved the way for equal access to education for generations of African American students.
To celebrate her incredible life and legacy, here are five powerful Ruby Bridges quotes.
1. "Don't follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail. When you start a new trail equipped with courage, strength and conviction, the only thing that can stop you is you!"
2. "Each and every one of us is born with a clean heart. Our babies know nothing about hate or racism. But soon they begin to learn – and only from us. We keep racism alive. We pass it on to our children. We owe it to our children to help them keep their clean start."
Photo credit: G. Andrew Boyd
3. "My message is really that racism has no place in the hearts and minds of our children."
Photo credit: Pete Souza
4. "I now know that experience comes to us for a purpose, and if we follow the guidance of the spirit within us, we will probably find that the purpose is a good one."
5. "Racism is a grown-up disease and we must stop using our children to spread it."
Ms. Bridges, thank you for your courage, sacrifice, and lifelong commitment to education. Happy Birthday!