It’s not everyday when you can meet a civil rights icon and champion – for the students of The Glenholme School, that day was May 2, 2012. Ruby Bridges, the subject of Norman Rockwell’s memorable civil rights painting, The Problem We All Live With, visited campus and provided an interactive presentation about the events encompassing her future-changing walk into a New Orleans’ elementary school as part of a court-ordered integration in 1960. At the time, Ruby was just six years old and her bravery helped to write an important civil rights chapter in our nation’s history.
The atmosphere in The Center for the Arts was tranquil as Ruby Bridges presence seemingly captivated the audience of students, faculty and friends. With the accuracy and perspective only she could have, Ruby outlined the events proceeding and surrounding her year in first grade as a small African American girl who walked passed an angry mob every day on her way into school while surrounded by a team U.S. Marshalls. The presentation was filled with an incredible amount of details, photos, and discussions.
Ruby interacted with students throughout the two-hour event and in a brief roll-playing segment one student was imaginatively cast as an African-American citizen seeking equality in education. Topics of discussion included the emotional climate of the civil rights movement, laws and how to go about changing them, and tolerance for others. Thought provoking questions were posed by both Mrs. Bridges and the audience, and a truly interactive exchange followed.
As the end of the presentation drew closer, a photo slideshow offered the ideal conclusion. As images of her experience and the turmoil of the time scrolled across the overhead display in The Center for the Arts, Mrs. Bridges provided a personal account of events displayed.
As a lecturer, Ruby Bridges delivers her message to children and adults across the nation. She established the Ruby Bridges Foundation to continue to promote the values of tolerance and appreciation of all differences in educational programs. Her message is the perfect complement to Glenholme’s community of character and supports the school’s universal values of respect, kindness, and fairness.
Participating in a program with diverse cultural opportunities allows students to expand their skills, liberate their imaginations, increase their self-esteem, and learn positive methods of expression. Active involvement in events like the presentation by Ruby Bridge stimulates students' personal growth, helps them to develop an appreciation for others, and allows them to take healthy risks in a safe and supportive environment. The Glenholme School aims to provide students a program rich in the cultural opportunities.