On November 14, 1960, at the tender age of 6 years old Ruby Bridges stepped foot in what was the all white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, LA.
Quietly with her mother and surrounded by federal marshalls for protection, Ruby became the first person to desegregate schools after the Supreme Court’s ruling on Brown v. Board of Education, making segregated schools unconstitutional.
“All day long, angry parents removed their children from the school as Ruby and her mother waited. At the end of the first school day, the crowd outside of William Frantz was larger and louder than it had been that morning as news of Ruby’s attendance spread.
The next day, the White Citizens’ Council held a meeting in the Municipal Auditorium attended by over 5,000 people. The leaders of the meeting called for protests and boycotts to resist integration. On November 16th, crowds marched to the school board building shouting, “Two, four, six, eight, we don’t want to integrate.” The mayor, DeLesseps Morrison, went on television that night to urge an end to the violence, but he also announced that the New Orleans Police Department was not enforcing the federal court order for school integration. Riots broke out after the announcement, and several people were injured. The police arrested 250 people, but almost none of the white rioters were arrested.
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