Day 2, Feb 4, 2019: Ruby Bridges
This year, we've taken the time to craft an entire month long curriculum based on the book "Little Leaders, Bold Women in Black History" by Vashti Harrison. The curriculum is fairly simple: read a singular page from the book and engage in additional chosen readings and have a conversation internally, with your little one, or with your classroom about additional topics that can be discussed based upon the person of the day's herstory. This curriculum is designed to talk about the DEEPER issues that aren't often covered during Black History Month as well as highlight Black women who did radical work. It also engages in conversation about missed or often looked over facts about these women and what they say about this country as a whole. The book is simply a starting point for larger conversations.
This curriculum is designed to reclaim black women's stories away from white liberals, especially white feminists and present them in their proper, full contexts without the smug colorblindness they're usually attached to. All of our analyses are Pan-African and Africana Womanist (NOT Feminist and yes there is a difference).
The First Excerpt is about Ruby Bridges. The full page for her from the book was readily available online so if you don't have the book at this point, you can still participate!
Ruby made history in 1960, when at the age of six she became the first student to attend an all-white school in New Orleans. Although some other cities has already begun to desegregate- as was the law since a Supreme Court ruling in 1954 declared that "separate but equal" was in fact not equal- there were some cities where the schools in New Orleans were still divided by color. But after an important ruling the court ordered the schools in New Orleans to be desegregated, and Ruby was selected to be the first black student to attend William Frantz Elementary School. Every step of the way was a challenge. Long before her first day, Ruby had to take an exam even to gain admission into the school, one that was written in such a way that black students were least likely to past. Her father feared what it might mean if she passed, but her mother pushed for Ruby to take it for the sake of a better education. Many people did not support desegregation, and on Ruby's first day, protestors surrounded the school. Ruby had to b escorted by her mother and US Marshals in order to enter. She was so young, it was hard to grasp what was going on. Many years later, she said she thought it was a Mardi Gras celebration because of the number of people out on the streets. She had no idea that they were there to protest her. Once she made it inside the school, the difficulties continued. White parents pulled their kids from classes, and many of the teachers refused to teach a black student. Only one person agreed to teach her, a young woman who had recently moved to Louisiana from Boston. Miss Henry became Ruby's only confidante and friend. During the fight for civil rights, Ruby became a symbol for the vulnerability all black Americans faced.
Conversations to have with yourself, your little ones, your classroom, or your co-workers and resources to further educate: