Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to integrate New Orleans public schools, spoke to the LSU Law Center community on April 5, 2012. The lecture was sponsored by the George W. and Jean H. Pugh Institute for Justice.
Bridges recounted to the audience her first day and year at William Frantz Elementary. Recalling the crowds outside the school that first day, Bridges said, “I thought everyone came out because I was so smart and on my way to college. . . I had no idea what was really happening.”
Bridges credits her teacher, Mrs. Henry, for getting her through that first year. “She made school fun,” Bridges recalled. “She did everything she could to take my mind off of what was happening outside. She was the nicest teacher I ever had. I’m grateful Mrs. Henry came all the way from Boston to teach me. She became my best friend. The most important lesson I learned was that it didn’t matter to Mrs. Henry what I looked like because she showed me her heart.”
Today, Bridges travels across the country speaking to school children about her story and what they can learn from her experiences. “I want kids to know racism doesn’t have a place in the hearts and minds of children,” Bridges said.
The George W. and Jean H. Pugh Institute for Justice provides support for research, educational and pro bono activities that promote justice for individuals in the administration of the criminal and civil justice systems in Louisiana and elsewhere. The Pugh Institute is a tax-exempt, charitable organization founded in 1998.
For more information about the Pugh Institute for justice, please visit: host.law.lsu.edu/pughinstitute/.