Monday, November 14, 1960: Integration of New Orleans schools

Under a federal court order originally handed down in 1956, black children begin attending New Orleans public schools. Three girls (Leona Tate, Tessie Provost and Gail Etienne) enter first grade at McDonogh No. 19 Public School, while one (Ruby Bridges) starts first grade at William Frantz Public School. Federal marshals escort the girls into and out of the schools, past crowds of protesters. Parents pull their children out of Ruby's class, leaving just her and her teacher -- Barbara Henry -- for the rest of the school year. (By the start of the next year, William Frantz would be integrated.) Leona, Tessie and Gail were the only students at McDonogh for the entire school year. White students never returned, and McDonogh became an all-black school in 1962.

* Entry from National Women's History Museum: @
* Interviews with Ruby Bridges: @ (New Orleans Magazine) and @ (BBC)
* "Through My Eyes" (Bridges' autobiography, 1999): @
* Ruby Bridges Foundation: @
* Leona Tate's story: @
* Leona Tate Foundation for Change: @
* "The McDonogh Three" (2004 story from The Times-Picayune): @
* 2010 coverage from the Times-Picayune: @
* More about New Orleans school integration (summary and footage) from Civil Rights Digital Library: @
* Chapter from "Race and Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana, 1915-1972": @

Author John Steinbeck witnessed the scene at William Frantz Elementary and wrote about it in "Travels with Charley," published in 1962:
"The big marshals stood her on the curb and a jangle of jeering shrieks went up from behind the barricades. The little girl did not look at the howling crowd but from the side the whites of her eyes showed like those of a frightened fawn. The men turned her around like a doll, and then the strange procession moved up the broad walk toward the school, and the child was even more a mite because the men were so big. Then the girl made a curious hop, and I think I know what it was. I think in her whole life she had not gone ten steps without skipping, but now in the middle of her first skip the weight bore her down and her little round feet took measured, reluctant steps between the tall guards. Slowly they climbed the steps and entered the school."

Artist Norman Rockwell depicted the event in "The Problem We All Live With," which appeared in Look magazine on January 14, 1964.

* The making of the painting: @

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