Since her election to the 2nd highest office in the land back in November and her subsequent ascension last month, I’ve seen my timelines on Twitter and Facebook flooded with an image of Vice President Kamala Harris walking with a shadow of a young Ruby Bridges on the wall next to her. I’m not quite sure what to make of the image or if it’s truly relevant to the moment. The image, however, does bring me to this week’s Black History subject in the Flashback Friday series: Ruby Bridges.
How I first came across this Black History subject? I was first introduced to Ruby Bridges when I saw the iconic image of her walking down the steps of her school, escorted by U.S. Marshals. This was back in the 4th grade.
What it meant to me then? At the time, I was just becoming familiar with slavery and the American civil rights movement in general. Seeing that image just made me sad. As I grew older and learned more about Ruby’s story, I felt like she was a hero. During a trip to New Orleans for an FBLA conference, I got a chance to see the school she went to. It definitely brought me to tears seeing the steps and all.
What it means to me now? In the annals of Black history in the United States, Ruby Bridges has to be one of the most important people. She was just 6 years old when all of the chaos happened and I could imagine that she was scared and traumatized from the experience. I’d also venture to say that it was difficult for her to be an effective student considering she was isolated from other students for an entire school year. Nevertheless, big kudos to her. She’s a trailblazer who cleared the path for people like me who attended schools that likely would’ve been White-only had Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka not received the unanimous decision from the Supreme Court. If “taking one for the team” was a real person, it would be Ruby Bridges. I know she has the Presidential Citizens Medal, which is a grand achievement in and of itself, but I personally feel like she should be bestowed the nation’s highest civilian award. She should have the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She’s 66 years old now and seems to be in great health. I do hope that she gets that honor while she’s still around to actually accept it.