Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude
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Black News and Black Views with a Whole Lotta Attitude

New Children's Book Teaches Young Readers an Important Lesson in Black History

"I Am Ruby Bridges," is the story in her own words of the young Black girl who integrated a New Orleans school district.

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Ruby Bridges speaks onstage at Glamour’s 2017 Women of The Year Awards at Kings Theatre on November 13, 2017 in Brooklyn, New York
Ruby Bridges speaks onstage at Glamour’s 2017 Women of The Year Awards at Kings Theatre on November 13, 2017 in Brooklyn, New York
Photo: Bryan Bedder (Getty Images)

These days, conservatives in school districts all across the country are looking to ban books that even come close to telling the story of our country’s complicated history with race. But today, one of history’s most important figures is out with a new children’s book which tells a story of racial reckoning in her own words.

“I Am Ruby Bridges” is a picture book for children ages 4 to 8. Bridges’ words, along with illustrations by New York Times bestselling illustrator Nikkolas Smith, bring the story of a young girls’ bravery to life for young readers.

In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges was one of four Black students to integrate an all-white school district in New Orleans. Just six years earlier, in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to segregate the country’s public schools on the basis of race. And while several history books have covered the historic day, Bridges’ unique first-hand account is unlike anything we’ve seen before. “It’s a true reflection of what happened through my own eyes,” Bridges told the AP in an interview.

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The image of Bridges being escorted to school by federal marshals on her first day as white onlookers jeered was made famous by the 1964 Norman Rockwell painting, “The Problem We All Live With.” Bridges continued to face angry onlookers and white parents who pulled their children out of school until Bridges was the only student in her class. But Bridges told the AP that the kindness shown by her teacher, who she still considers a good friend, helped her get through what could have been an extremely dark period. “That shaped me into a person that is not prejudiced at all. And I feel like that little girl is still inside of me, and that’s it’s my calling to make sure kids understand that you can’t look at someone and judge them,” she said.