Lucille Bridges, Who Walked Daughter to Become First Black Student At All-White School, Dead at 86

by Jamila Lizet White

November 11, 2020

Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

Lucille Bridges, famously known for walking her then 6-year-old daughter Ruby Bridges through screaming crowds as she became the first Black student at an all-white New Orleans elementary school, passed away at the age of 86.

The civil rights activist shared the news Tuesday evening (Nov. 10) to her Instagram writing “Today our country lost a hero. Brave, progressive, a champion for change. She helped alter the course of so many lives by setting me out on my path as a six year old little girl. Our nation lost a Mother of the Civil Rights Movement today. And I lost my mom. I love you and am grateful for you. May you Rest in Peace.”

Ruby was born the same year Brown vs. The Board of Education was decided which ended racial segregation in schools. Six years later she went on to become an icon of the Civil Rights Movement.

The historical event was further acknowledged by Norman Rockwell’s 1964 painting “The Problem We All Live With” which was inspired by Ruby but used a local girl, Lynda Gunn, as the model.

Photo by Timothy Tai for The Boston Globe via Getty Images

The U.S. Marshals Service quoted Ruby stating that her parents are the real heroes. “They (sent me to that public school) because they felt it was the right thing to do.”

According to the National Women’s History Museum, Bridges’ husband, Abon Bridges, resisted the idea and feared for his daughter’s safety. But Bridges wanted Ruby to have the education she never received.

WGNO-TV reported that Bridges was born to sharecroppers in Mississippi and did not complete elementary school due to Black children typically working in the fields full time after completing the third grade. This served as her motivator and why she “ached for the same education and opportunities her white peers were privileged with…”

We’re sending our prayers and love to their family.

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