Lucille Bridges — who, in the early 1960s, endured racist attacks while accompanying her then-6-year-old daughter Ruby to the newly desegregated William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana — has died at age 86.
Tuesday on Instagram, Ruby announced her mother’s passing in a heartfelt post.
Posting a photo of herself and her mom outside the elementary school, Ruby wrote, “Today our country lost a hero. Brave, progressive, a champion for change. She helped alter the course of so many lives by setting me out on my path as a six year old little girl.”
“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.”
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Today our country lost a hero. Brave, progressive, a champion for change. She helped alter the course of so many lives by setting me out on my path as a six year old little girl. 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. Lucille Bridges (August 12, 1934 - November 10, 2020)
In 1960, Lucille and her husband Abon responded to a request from the NAACP to volunteer Ruby to participate in the integration of the New Orleans school system.
While walking to William Frantz on her first day, Ruby and her mother were escorted by four federal marshals.
Sadly, as a result of Ruby’s enrollment, white parents pulled their children from the school, and only one teacher, Barbara Henry, was willing to reach Ruby.
Ruby’s story was commemorated in the now-iconic 1964 painting “The Problem We All Live With” from artist Norman Rockwell.
Recognized as a civil rights icon, Ruby credits her parents as the ones behind her history-making activism.
"My parents are the real heroes," Bridges was quoted saying via the U.S. Marshals Service. "They [sent me to that public school] because they felt it was the right thing to do."
In a statement released Tuesday night, Mayor of New Orleans LaToya Cantrell honored Lucille and her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement.
“Today we mourn the loss of one of the mothers of the Civil Rights Movement in New Orleans with the passing of Lucille Bridges — mother of five, including Ruby Bridges,” Cantrell said. “May she rest in God’s perfect peace.”
“Lucille’s strength was unbounded during this period,” Cantrell added. “Lucille insisted, seeing the action as an opportunity to help all Black children, and walked Ruby, with federal marshals, past chanting and taunting white protesters and to the schoolhouse. Mother and daughter both revealed their character and courage.”
May Lucille’s legacy live on.