Ruby Bridges Movie Essay

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At that time, people wanted to keep black people and white people separate because whites didn’t think that blacks were as good as them.

For example, blacks and whites had separate drinking fountains, blacks had to sit in the back of buses and blacks and whites each had their own separate schools.

The face of hatred is all the more terrifying when it belongs to someone we might know.

To watch “Ruby Bridges,” a story about desegregating New Orleans schools in 1960, is to look unblinkingly into that face--and to weep.

The 6-year-old title character, selected as one of the first African Americans to attend a white school, is escorted by federal marshals each morning past a throng of shouting, fist-waving protesters: clean-cut young men who are red with rage, an ordinary-looking mother who screams that she’s going to hang or poison Ruby, a grandmother who holds an effigy of a black child in a coffin.

Youths can learn a lot from this “Wonderful World of Disney” presentation Sunday on ABC, particularly if parents are ready and willing to discuss it with them afterward. This movie is, at times, very, very difficult to watch, but we all would do well to remember what prejudice can make us capable of--and what overcoming it can achieve. In the best tradition of movie-making, “Ruby Bridges"--which is based on actual events--is an exhilarating tale of strength, perseverance, love and faith.Ruby took her entrance exam in the spring of 1960 and was chosen to participate along with five others.Two of the six dropped out of the program and the other three were sent to Mc Donough Elementary, but Ruby was sent to William Frantz Elementary and was the only black child to attend the school.But that simple act by one small girl played an important part in the Civil Rights Movement. Ruby was born on September 8, 1954 in Tylertown, Mississippi.A year later, her family moved to New Orleans, Louisiana.It shows Ruby being escorted into the school by the four marshals.[i] They say a picture is worth a thousand words right?Well this one speaks volumes about the cruelty of whites toward blacks during the Civil Rights Movement as well as the bravery of such a young child.As written by Toni Ann Johnson and directed by Euzhan Palcy (who made the feature film “A Dry White Season”), it is also blessed with complex and, for the most part, balanced portrayals; even the seemingly good characters tend to have ulterior motives or unacknowledged prejudices.As Ruby, young Chaz Monet presents a preternaturally calm exterior, which almost--but not quite--masks the many fears racing through her mind. “She’s just a little girl; how can we put her through that?Ruby’s mother, played by Lela Rochon (of the feature film “Waiting to Exhale”), firmly replies: “I’m sick of people telling us where we can’t go, what we can’t do, what we ain’t supposed to have.My children are going to have more; they deserve more. He prayed for them.” In the days that follow, Dad loses his job (as a Korean War veteran, he feels particularly betrayed); the family is asked to stop shopping at the white-owned grocery store; and even the black neighbors turn on the Bridges because of the protective police roadblocks and other disruptions in everyone’s lives.


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