On Thursday, February 10, Laurel Councilwomen Grace Amos and Shirley Jordan paid a visit to the Unlimited Dreams Christian Learning Center in Sawmill Square Mall to provide a story hour in honor of Black History Month. Amos read to students in the 3rd through 6th grades at the school and discussed the concepts of integration verses segregation. “Integration is when people of all different colors and backgrounds and ethnicities can go to school together, work together, live together and love together,” she explained. She read “Ruby Head High: Ruby Bridge’s First Day of School” by Irene Cohen-Janca and illustrated by Marc Daniau.
The book recounts the true story of Ruby Bridges, who at six years old, was one of the first students to integrate into a public school in Louisiana. She is also the subject of Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting, “The Problem We All Live With.” Although the story did contain a sample of the racial slurs that Ruby encountered on her first day of school, Amos declined to read those lines out of respect for the ages of the students and a desire to tell the story in a manner that would not offend.
The story emphasized that although there were protests to and backlash from Ruby’s integration, most of the controversy died down after her first school year and Ruby was ultimately accepted by her classmates. “It has a very happy ending,” Amos said. “We should love each other regardless of skin color, regardless of religion. People are different but loving each other is so important.”
“It’s okay to be different,” Jordan added pointing out that Ruby remained courageous and focused throughout the story. “Whatever was happening around her, it did not deter her from getting her education.” Jordan also shared with the class that Ruby went on to graduate from an integrated high school, get married, and work as a travel agent for 15 years before deciding to be a stay-at-home mom to her four sons. She and her family still live in the New Orleans area.
More information about Ruby Bridges can be found at Rubybridges.com.
Amos and Jordan concluded their visit with a tour of the school led by founder Amanda Cooley. More information about the Unlimited Dreams Christian Learning Center can be obtained by calling the school at 601.340.3660.