When many of us think of Ruby Bridges, we think of that sweet little girl walking down the giant courthouse steps, politicians and media surrounding because she had just won the right to attend any school she chooses. While this moment was monumental for Ruby and our country, this book focuses on the days after that.
A Summary of The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
The year is 1960 and the court made the decision to allow Ruby to attend first grade at William Frantz Elementary School, traditionally a white-only school. Her family is ecstatic at the news, but they are also scared at the backlash they will receive. Sure enough, the next day, as Ruby walked up to her new school, people from the community crowded around the front steps hurling insults at Ruby and her family. Parents pulled their children from the school and soon, it was only Ruby who came to class. Despite the hatred that she received, she thrived in her new school.
Every day she faced the crowd, but every day she showed up. One day, Ruby’s new teacher looks out to see the little girl facing the angry crowd. It looked as if she was talking to them. When Ruby entered the classroom, the teacher asked her what she had said. She told her teacher that she was praying for them. Usually, she would stop a few blocks from school to pray, but she forgot. So today, in front of the angry crowd, she prayed for them before she ascended the steps into the school
What can we learn from The Story of Ruby Bridges?
Lesson #1: Quality education is for everyone.
Unfortunately, Ruby lived in a time where only some received a quality based on skin color. We are thankful that Ruby, her family, and others were willing to fight for all children to have access to the same education. God has created each person on this earth to be unique and different. Because of this, all people, regardless of what makes people different, should be loved and respected.
Lesson #2: Courage is strength in the face of fear.
Ruby had incredible courage . . . more courage than most adults would have! While she feared the angry crowd and was saddened by the empty classroom, she pushed through her fear and continued to show up every day to school. True isn’t courage isn’t about not having fear, but rather facing the fear instead of letting it stop you.
Lesson #3: Matthew 5:43 “Pray for your enemies . . . “
The Bible says in Matthew 5:43 says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Ruby Bridges is a literal example of this verse. Instead of giving up on a new school or yelling at the angry crowd, she chose to pray for them. She didn’t pray for harm to fall on these people for their behavior, but rather that they would see all people the way God sees them . . . equal and loved.
Ruby knew that Jesus had faced the same persecution during His time on earth, especially as He approached the cross. Jesus’ response of praying for His enemies was Ruby’s example and is an example to all of us.
I hope that you enjoy reading about Ruby Bridges and her incredible story with your children. And I hope that the life lessons that are presented so clearly in this book will resonate with your children as well.
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