“I Am Ruby Bridges”: Behind The New Children’s Book By Civil Rights Icon Ruby Bridges


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Activist and civil rights icon Ruby Bridges made history in 1960 when she became the first Black student to attend an all-white school. Her new children’s book I Am Ruby Bridges shares the impactful story through the perspective of her six-year-old self. 

Bridges was born in Tylertown, Mississippi in 1954 and grew up in New Orleans. Her experience at William Frantz Elementary was traumatic: as an innocent six year old, she faced racial slurs, harassment, and extreme bullying and disrespect even from adults every day that she attended school, but she courageously persevered. She recalled a horrifying moment where a white woman held her Black doll in a coffin. Many white parents took their children out of school due to her unwelcome presence. Bridges’ experience fueled the inspiration behind Norman Rockwell’s famous, provocative painting “The Problem We All Live With,” pictured below.

The Problem We All Live With

Her 48-page children’s book includes powerful and vivid illustrations by Nikkolas Smith, along with a glossary that will aid in the education of today’s children, and teach critical lessons to the next generation of advocates and activists, informing them about America’s disturbing past. “It is important for all children to know all of our history, good or bad,” Bridges told NBC News. “It is our shared history in this country and because of it we should all know that history.” 

With racial tension on the rise and schools attempting to silence and invalidate racism in our country through banning certain books in their curriculum, Bridges’ story becomes all the more critical to be heard and remembered by the youth. “The fact that my own introduction to racism came from this experience at just 6 years old while integrating the Frantz school is why this project is so important to me,” she said. “Because of the current climate around race relations, I feel that it is a calling for me to help teach that same age and to tell them my story.”

“There may well be backlash over this book, but it is my story,” said Bridges. “It is my calling and the work I have chosen to do. I believe in my heart if we are ever to get past our racial differences it is going to come from our children. I hope this book will inspire all children, not just children of color, to judge one another by the content of their character, not the color of one’s skin,” she added.

Bridges created the Ruby Bridges Foundation, a nonprofit organization that stands against racism and advocates for equal rights. She is also the author of Through My Eyes and This Is Your Time.  

Purchase a copy of I Am Ruby Bridges by visiting your local bookstore or through Amazon.

Ayanna Nicole

Hi! I’m Ayanna, a writer and artist. Although I graduated from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte with two degrees in art and psychology, I’ve had a passion for writing for as long as I can remember. By following my dreams and utilizing my creativity, I designed Jaro Magazine with the ultimate intention of bringing more positive stories in the black community to the forefront, while also highlighting our versatile and vibrant culture through Jaro’s four modes: film, books, art, and music. I also manage a book hub, which you can find on Instagram @bloomingliterature.

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