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Historic moment for Baton Rouge students

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Posted: Feb 22, 2013 5:24 PM by Olivia LaBorde
Updated: Feb 22, 2013 5:24 PM
Source: WBRZ

  Rating: 1.0 (2 votes)

Topics: ruby bridges, William Frantz Elementary, New Orleans, black, segregation

BATON ROUGE- Racial tensions were high in 1960 as the first african-american student, Ruby Bridges, only 6 years old walked into William Frantz Elementary school in New Orleans.

A captivated audience of students in Baton Rouge, her grade school innocence, kept her from realizing her place in history.

"I didn't know a thing about what was going on. You know, seeing the crowds outside of the school I actually thought it was Mardi Gras and that was because my parents didn't try to explain to me what was really happening. I mean you cannot explain racism," said Bridges.

It may have been tough to explain to a child why being Black was looked down upon, by some at that time.

17 year old, Heather Murrary and the rest of her Redemptorist High school classmates, listened as Bridges describe a reality so different from their own.

"I can't believe it could've even been like that it's really great to see how far we've come," says Murray.

Attending the all white school was considered so dangerous for Bridges. U.S. Marshals had to escort her to class. A moment immortalized in a painting by Normal Rockwell.

"It was actually a way for him to make a stand about what was happening at that time," said Bridges.

None of the students were allowed to attend class with her, most teachers would not instruct her.

"If it weren't for her, I'd be in an all black school while the whites would be in an all white school so we owe her a lot," says Redemptorist Freshman Caleb Patterson.

Bridges says, "she only hopes these young people can see beyond color one day teach it to their children."

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