Ruby Bridges Continues to Make History

Nichole DupontiBerkshires Staff
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Norman Rockwell Museum
Rockwell immortalized then 6-year-old Ruby Bridges Hall's first day of school in 1960.
STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Last Friday, I had the great privilege of speaking with Ruby Bridges Hall (to many she is and always will be Ruby Bridges). Fifty years ago on Nov. 14, 1960, Bridges made history as the first black student to step foot in the William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. Escorted from her home to the school, 6-year-old Ruby became a symbol for the Civil Rights movement and an icon for American schoolchildren. For that entire year of school, Bridges was the only student in her class as many white parents pulled their children from the school in protest. Barbara Henry, her teacher, was the only teacher in the school who did not refuse to teach the new student.

In 1999, Bridges founded the Ruby Bridges Foundation and is a motivational speaker for schoolchildren across the country, speaking out against racism and intolerance.

Bridges' historic journey to school was immortalized in Norman Rockwell's painting "The Problem We All Live With," which appeared on the cover of Look Magazine on Jan. 14, 1964. This weekend, the museum honors Bridges' journey and Rockwell's painting with a small installation and a talk on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. by curator Corry Kanzenberg.

Question: What stands out in your mind about that first day of school 50 years ago?

Answer: That first day I remember driving up in front of the school with the U.S. marshals. People were chanting and throwing things and they seemed really angry.

Q: Did you ask your mother about what was going on?

Bridges, seen here in New Orleans last month, speaks at schools around the country.
A: I wasn't the kind of child to ask questions. I just did what I was told and watched everything go on around me, then asked the questions. It would've been hard to try and explain what was going on then to a 6-year-old. I was concentrating on behaving and listening to the teacher. That was it.

Q: What do you think is the greatest challenge that children face today?

A: I have four grandchildren. I think the greatest challenge is the violence that's in the world that is directed towards our children. I believe that there's a greater evil out there amongst us. This has touched me personally because I've lost a son to violence. We're concerned about the wrong things. We are so focused on education but we really need to get back to the basics.

Q: Do you ever question your role in history? Do you wish things were different?

A: No, no, I know now that this was the plan for me all along. I'm comfortable in my own skin. Of course, I still question and doubt myself and there are days when I don't want to get up out of bed. But I still have hope. My biggest fans are the kids and I'm always amazed at how welcoming they are to me. For as much as we see in the media and all of the negativity we see I see that kind of hope every time I go into a classroom. And I know that we are going to come out OK.
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PIttsfield 16s Fall in Babe Ruth Regional Final Sports
AUGUSTA, Maine -- The Norwalk, Conn., Babe Ruth 16-year-old All-Stars Tuesday beat Pittsfield, 2-0, in the championship game of the New England Regional.
It marked the second shutout loss to the Connecticut State Champions in three days for Pittsfield. But it was a very different game this time around.
On Sunday, Norwalk beat Pittsfield, 10-0, in six innings to wrap up pool play.
That forced Pittsfield to win two straight games to get a rematch in the finals, and it did so, blanking Lyndon, Vt., on Monday and edging Eastern Mass Champion Lynn on Tuesday morning.
But in the title game, Norwalk pitcher Jaxon Ermo held Pittsfield to four hits and allowed two walks while striking out six in a complete-game shutout win.
For Pittsfield, Connor Paronto and Sam Glockner split time on the mound, striking out three.
But Norwalk generated 10 hits and scored a run in the second and a run in the sixth to give Ermo the offensive support he needed.
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