Ruby Bridges Visits the White House

President Obama pays homage to the iconic figure who helped change history in 1960. 

Posted: 07/18/2011 06:02 PM EDT
Filed Under Barack Obama

Ruby Bridges

President Obama, Ruby Bridges and representatives of the Norman Rockwell Museum view Rockwell’s The Problem We All Live With, hanging in a West Wing hallway near the Oval Office. (Photo: The White House)

 

Ruby Bridges recently took another walk escorted by security. However, instead of wearing a white dress with white ribbons in her pig-tailed hair surrounded by four burly guards as she walked to school in New Orleans, this time she was meeting President Obama at the White House.

 

You see, back in November 1960, Bridges needed a police escort to enter the William Frantz Public School in New Orleans after the court ordered racial integration in schools. That was six years after the Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs. Board. Many opposed the integration law and yelled racial slurs at the young girl as she walked into the institution for her first day.

 

 "I think it's fair to say that if it wasn't for you guys, I wouldn't be here today," President Obama said to the iconic figure whose portrait as a six-year-old walking behind police officers now hangs outside of the Oval Office.

 

Norman Rockwell’s painting, The Problem We All Live With, received much criticism when it appeared on the cover of Look magazine in 1964. Today, Bridges says that she commends Rockwell for having “enough courage to step up to the plate and say I’m going to make a statement, and he did it in a very powerful way.”

 

Bridges now serves on the board of the Norman Rockwell Museum and promotes tolerance, respect and appreciation of diversity through her Ruby Bridges Foundation.

 

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