September 21, 2015
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, illustrated by George Ford
Most of us have seen the iconic photo of Ruby Bridges, the little girl being led by marshalls through the hate-filled crowd. I always shudder when I see the distorted faces of the women screaming at her. All she wanted to do was go to a good school.
Every day Ruby came to school. Every day she sat alone in the classroom. The only student in attendance. The sole focus of her teacher, Mrs. Henry. Henry marvelled that Ruby appeared so calm. As the days wore on she expected this to change but every day the little girl settled into her desk, ready to learn.
Then one day, Mrs. Henry saw Ruby stop in the middle of the crowd. The marshalls were obviously worried but the little girl stood there. Was she trying to talk to these people? Finally she passed through the crowd and into the school. When Mrs. Henry questioned her, Ruby said that she wasn’t talking to them. She was praying for them. She did this every day, twice a day, and had forgotten to say her morning prayer until she was almost to the school.
Eventually other parents sent their children back to school. Why deprive them of an education? Their parents just couldn’t see the logic. But that’s the thing about hate. It isn’t logical. It’s all about fear. This is an amazingly powerful story of one girl working to battle that fear with the strongest weapon she had — prayer.
This book was originally published in 1995. But the message is so powerful that a new edition came out in 2010. Goerge Ford’s realistic illustrations show not only the hatred and rage on the faces of the adults but also Ruby’s quiet strength. Share this amazing faith-filled Civil Rights story with your young reader today.