TikTokers are just learning about the horrifying ordeal Ruby Bridges went through mere decades ago

A TikToker is sharing the powerful story of Ruby Bridges, the first Black American to integrate an elementary school in the South. 

Victoria Alexander is a Ph.D. candidate with a specialization in equity and justice education. She uses her TikTok to discuss social justice issues and history. Alexander revealed that she never learned about Bridges in school and shared what she has since learned.

In 1960, at 6 years old, Bridges was one of six students selected to integrate into all-white schools in New Orleans after they passed a school entrance exam specifically for African American students. Bridges was the only Black student selected to attend her school — two of the other selected Black students did not leave their schools; the other three were sent to a different all-white elementary school — and she faced immense racist backlash and attacks from white students, teachers and parents. 

Norman Rockwell famously depicted her tumultuous entrance into William Frantz Elementary School in the 1963 painting, “The Problem We All Live With.” 

“I didn’t learn about Ruby Bridges in Louisiana,” Alexander said. “That she’s barely retirement age right now, today, at 67 years old. I didn’t learn that as a 6-year-old little girl walked into school that there were grown white women hysterically crying and fainting as a result of their racism.” 

Alexander explained she never learned that people threw rocks at Bridges or that four federal marshals had to escort her into the building to protect her from violent attacks on her first day. 

“I didn’t learn that white people put a little Black baby doll inside of a coffin and paraded it around as a 6-year-old little girl tried to go to school,” she said

She didn’t learn that Bridges wasn’t allowed to eat from the cafeteria because they feared someone would poison her or that 500 white students changed schools because of her presence. Or that only one teacher, Barbara Henry, was willing to work with Bridges. 

“So no, I did not learn about Ruby Bridges in school, and I doubt that many of us really learned about Ruby Bridges in school,” Alexander said. “And if some people have their way, Black history will get even more and more diluted in public education.”

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