Civil Rights Pioneer Ruby Bridges on Her First-Grade Teacher

In 1960, a 6-year-old girl named Ruby Bridges became a powerful symbol of the Civil Rights Movement when she began attending the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. It was a turbulent time for race relations in the south as riots and demonstrations raged across the city. Protesters were trying to not only harass the black children but keep the white children away, as well, in an attempt to prove that desegregation wouldn’t work. In the end, Ruby was the only student in first-grade teacher Barbara Henry’s class for more than one year.

Oprah reunited Ruby and Barbara in a 1996 episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. “She actually taught me the lesson that I say Dr. King taught all of us,” Ruby says. “And even though she was white and she looked exactly like the people outside the school, she showed me her heart.”

Watch the video above to hear Ruby’s thoughts on her dear teacher.

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