Ruby Bridges may be widely known as the brave Black child who desegregated an all-White school in the South, but it was her mom, Lucille, who put the decision in motion.
“Brave, progressive, a champion for change,” Ruby Bridges wrote of her mom. “She helped alter the course of so many lives by setting me out on my path as a six year old little girl.”
That champion for change – Lucille Bridges – has died at age 86.
“Today our country lost a hero,” Ruby Bridges wrote on her Instagram page. “Our nation lost a Mother of the Civil Rights Movement today. And I lost my mom. I love you and am grateful for you. May you Rest In Peace.”
In the photo Ruby Bridges posted, Lucille Bridges is seen holding Ruby’s hand while walking her out of William Frantz Elementary School with four federal agents at their side.
A different depiction of that same scene is one of the Civil Rights era’s most iconic images, thanks in part to the 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell, “The Problem We All Live With.”
On Nov. 14, 1960, Ruby Bridges became the first Black student to attend the school after a federal judge ordered the Orleans Parish School Board to desegregate as a result of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.
Ruby Bridges was one of four Black children in the district to apply, gain acceptance and ultimately attend a previously all-White school that year.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell commented Tuesday on Lucille Bridges’ passing, calling her “one of the mothers of the Civil Rights Movement in New Orleans.”
“Lucille … walked Ruby, with federal marshals, past chanting and taunting white protesters and to the schoolhouse. Mother and daughter both revealed their character and courage,” Cantrell wrote in a series of tweets.
She added, “I think I speak for all mothers who want the best for their children when I hope for the same moral courage, bravery and love as that of Lucille Bridges. May she rest in God’s perfect peace.”