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Through My Eyes Hardcover – Sep 1 1999
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Surrounded by federal marshals, 6-year-old Ruby Bridges became the first black student ever at the all-white William Frantz Public School in New Orleans, Louisiana, on November 14, 1960. Perhaps never had so much hatred been directed at so perfect a symbol of innocence--which makes it all the more remarkable that her memoir, simple in language and rich in history and sepia-toned photographs, is informed mainly by a sort of bewildered compassion. Throughout, readers will find quotes from newspapers of the time, family members, and teachers; sidebars illustrating how Ruby Bridges pops up in both John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley and a Norman Rockwell painting; and a fascinating update on Bridges's life and civil rights work. A personal, deeply moving historical documentary about a staggeringly courageous little girl at the center of events that already seem unbelievable. (Ages 6 and older) --Richard Farr
From Publishers Weekly
With Robert Coles's 1995 picture book, The Story of Ruby Bridges, and a Disney television movie, readers may feel they already know all about Bridges, who in 1960 was the first black child to attend a New Orleans public elementary school. But the account she gives here is freshly riveting. With heartbreaking understatement, she gives voice to her six-year-old self. Escorted on her first day by U.S. marshals, young Ruby was met by throngs of virulent protesters ("I thought maybe it was Mardi Gras... Mardi Gras was always noisy," she remembers). Her prose stays unnervingly true to the perspective of a child: "The policeman at the door and the crowd behind us made me think this was an important place. It must be college, I thought to myself." Inside, conditions were just as strange, if not as threatening. Ruby was kept in her own classroom, receiving one-on-one instruction from teacher Barbara Henry, a recent transplant from Boston. Sidebars containing statements from Henry and Bridges's mother, or excerpts from newspaper accounts and John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, provide information and perspectives unavailable to Bridges as a child. As the year went on, Henry accidentally discovered the presence of other first graders, and she had to force the principal to send them into her classroom for part of the day (the principal refused to make the other white teachers educate a black child). Ironically, it was only when one of these children refused to play with Ruby ("My mama said not to because you're a nigger") that Ruby realized that "everything had happened because I was black.... It was all about the color of my skin." Sepia-toned period photographs join the sidebars in rounding out Bridges's account. But Bridges's words, recalling a child's innocence and trust, are more vivid than even the best of the photos. Like poetry or prayer, they melt the heart. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Then in the summer of 1960, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) contacted Ruby's parents. The Federal court planned to force two white New Orleans schools to admit African-American children. Ruby was one of only a handful of black children who had been tested for admission to these schools, and passed. She was to attend the William Frantz Public School. Her father, Abon Bridges, was opposed to her going; he had fought in a segregated unit in the Korean War, and believed nothing would ever change. Her mother, Lucille, thought otherwise and convinced him to take the risk.
Ruby started the year in her old school while Louisiana Governor Jimmie H. Davis led legislators in Baton Rouge in a fight to preserve segregation. They passed 28 new anti-integration laws and attempted to seize the public school system. Meanwhile Federal District Court Judge J. Skelly Wright upheld Federal laws requiring equal opportunity. Ruby was the only black child sent to William Frantz Public School, however. Another three students were to go to McDonough.
The morning that Federal Marshals arrived to take Ruby to her new school, she only knew only that she was to start a new school, and was not afraid. The policemen at the school door made her think this was an important place. "It must be college," she thought. She sat in the principal's office with her mother all day, and became frightened only when, as she left the school, she saw the crowds of white anti-integration protestors.
The next day, Ruby joined a class with a white teacher named Barbara Henry, whose kindness rose above the fray. No other children joined the class, and within a few days, Ruby was going to school alone with the Marshals; her mother had to return to work. Then the Rev. Lloyd Foreman broke ranks with the white boycotts and sent his daughter Pam to school. The Ku Klux clan began burning crosses in black neighborhoods to frighten the people into giving up their fight for equality. The tension in New Orleans grew each day.
But Ruby quickly became a symbol of freedom, appearing in John Steinbeck's Travels with Charley and a Norman Rockwell painting than ran in Look Magazine. When Abon Bridges lost his job at a local filling station for sending Ruby to a white school, the family began to receive gifts and money from all over the U.S. Even former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote to Ruby.
Some children might cower in fear after such experiences, refuse to go on. Ruby persevered, however, as did her upright family. As a child, she believed that prayer could get her through anything. And it accomplished a great deal.
While she was unable to attend college, Ruby married and raised four sons. Over another 16 pages, Ruby Bridges tells about her subsequent experiences, her contributions and efforts, what she has learned and given.
This historic story of courage and wisdom is worth its weight in gold for the hope it offers readers of all ages. Alyssa A. Lappen
6-year-old Ruby Bridges was the first black child to enroll in a white elementary school in New Orleans, Louisiana. On November 14, 1960 Ruby walked into the school with her mother and four U.S. Marshals. The other families pulled their white children out of the school. So Ruby was left alone with her teacher, Mrs. Henry, inside their big classroom. This was the beginning of school integration.
How must this little first grader feel with so many adults yelling horrible things at her? One woman even threatened to poison her. People held a small coffin with a black doll inside to scare her. People threatened her neighborhood ï¿½ and her father lost his job. This is brave little Rubyï¿½s astounding story.
(p. 20) When we left school that first day, the crowd outside was even bigger and louder than it had been in the morning. I guess the police couldnï¿½t keep them behind the barricades. It seemed to take us a long time to get to the marshalsï¿½ car.
Groups of high school boys, joining the protestors, paraded up and down the street and sang new verses to old hymns. Their favorite was ï¿½Battle Hymn of the Republic,ï¿½ in which they changed the chorus to ï¿½Glory, glory, segregation, the South will rise again.ï¿½ Many of the boys carried signs and said awful things, but most of all I remember seeing a black doll in a coffin, which frightened me more than anything else.
After the first day, I was glad to get home. That afternoon, I taught a friend the chant I had learned: ï¿½Two, four, six, eight, we donï¿½t want to integrate.ï¿½ My friend and I didnï¿½t know what the words meant, but we would jump rope to it every day after school.
Would the chaos ever end? Would the other children return to school?
Though my eyes
By Ruby Bridges
This book is about a true story of a pivotal event in history as Ruby Bridges saw it unfold around her. It is also about a black six year old girl.
An exciting/interesting part is when Ruby Bridges talks at the end of the book and says "I know that experience comes to us for a purpose, and if we follow the guidance of the sprit with us, we will proubly find that the purpose is a good one."
If you like reading about nonfiction books then this is the book for you.
When I read this book I always give it a thumbs up!
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