Pursuing Success Even in the Face of Adversity

Chaos all around: large crowds yelling, police everywhere, and federal marshals in front and behind you for protection.

This is a glimpse into the first day of school for the young civil rights activist Ruby Bridges. Ruby boldly stood in the face of adversity and defied many odds on November 14, 1960, when she became the first African-American child to attend an all-white public elementary school in the South.

Years prior, the landmark ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, which ended racial segregation in public schools, was being implemented throughout the country – but southern states were still doing very little to comply.

In particular, the Louisiana State Legislature had found ways to fight the federal court order and slow the integration process.

Fueled by a vision to ensure all kids had an equal opportunity to succeed, the Bridges family bravely made a decision that would have a lasting impact on education – they allowed their daughter to attend the all-white William Frantz School, near their home.

Escorted by federal marshals every day of the school year, Ruby and her mother made it clear that access to a high-quality education is an opportunity that all families deserve.

As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important that we take the time to honor even the youngest of activists and the sacrifices many families made to ensure a bright future for all students.

“My parents are the real heroes,” Bridges said. “They [sent me to that public school] because they felt it was the right thing to do.”

Access to a high-quality education is something that all families deserve.

Thanks to brave people, like the Bridges family, our education system has been forever changed for the better.

Shanessa Bryant is a Communications Specialist at the Collaborative for Student Success

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