Hey guys. Let's dive right in and start with a question I think we can all relate to; how many of you have ever wanted to curl up in bed for a prolonged period of time and never do anything again? Yea, me too. Glad we're on the same page.
Know who else probably recognized that feeling every once in awhile? Ruby freaking Bridges. This little lady warrior was just 6 years old when she became the first African American child to attend an all white school in 1960 New Orleans. In doing so she also became a major face of the Civil Rights movement.
A little background for those of you who slept your way through US history; the powers that be in 1896 decided in the court case Plessy vs Ferguson that segregation in schools was swell as long as the schools were "separate but equal". Yes because equality was clearly on the top of their list since they were discussing SEPARATING CHILDREN BASED ON SKIN COLOR. The black schools were nowhere near equal to the white schools, hence the white population was free to rob the black population of fair and quality education basically ensuring their economic and societal segregation for decades to come.
The court case Brown vs The Board of Education put and end to this law in 1954, and ruled that segregation in schools was the worst.
Enter, Ruby Bridges. She was just one of six children who passed the test that allowed entrance into the white schools. Oh yea, did I mention there was an entrance exam for public schools for African American kids? Pretty sure the white kids just had to show up.
On her first day of school, tiny 6 year old Ruby, had to be escorted by FOUR federal marshals. And it was a good thing too, since the white parents of the school took it upon themselves to rally outside the school and throw things at a little girl who was JUST TRYING TO GO TO SCHOOL.
White parents withdrew their kids from Ruby's class, so for her whole first year it was Ruby and her teacher Mrs. Henry. Ruby wasn't even allowed to eat anything from the cafeteria, because one of the mothers threatened to poison her food.
After winter break poor Ruby began to wig out a bit because wouldn't we all? This was a kid who had to slay racism on a daily basis. So she saw psychologist Robert Cole because mental health is freaking important. Be gentle with yourself. Go buy a new candle. Make some tea.
By the time 2nd grade rolled around the white parents were apparently ashamed of themselves and everyone pretended nothing happened. The white American way. (See also, what we did to the Native Americans).
Ruby grew up, got a job, got married, started a family and basically remained a cool chick. In 1999 she started the Ruby Bridges Foundation to help continue the fight against racism. Rock on, Rubes.
So friend, the next time you struggle not to hit snooze for the millionth time, the next time you just can't even, remember Ruby. You think her 6 year old self woke up everyday, thrilled to have monsters throw insults at her everyday? Was she excited to receive death threats simply because she existed and wanted a better opportunity?
No. But she did it. She showed up and she took what she knew she deserved. That's what we all have to do today. While we've made strides, the world is still a racist, misogynistic, ignorant place. The war is far from won. But the only way we win it, and mind you we WILL win it, is if we keep showing up and demanding nothing less than what we deserve, just like Ruby.