The marker at Frantz brings the total number of unveiled markers across the state to 8, with three located in New Orleans so far. Another seven markers are planned.
The Louisiana Civil Rights Trail unveiled its third marker in New Orleans on Thursday, Jan. 12, at William Frantz Elementary, where Ruby Bridges attended school and made Civil Rights history.
Bridges was the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis.
The New Orleans school desegregation crisis was a period of intense public resistance in the city following the 1954 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education that racial segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. The conflict peaked in 1960, when U.S. Circuit Court Judge J. Skelly Wright ordered New Orleans public schools to desegregate beginning on November 14, 1960.
On that day, two New Orleans elementary schools were desegregated. Leona Tate, Tessie Provost, and Gail Etienne, all of whom were also six years old and later known as the McDonogh Three, integrated McDonogh 19 Elementary School. Meanwhile, four U.S. Marshals escorted six-year-old Ruby into Frantz.
“We are proud to tell the story of Ruby Bridges and to commemorate an iconic landmark for visitors and Louisianans to visit and to learn about the Civil Rights Movement in Louisiana,” said Lieutenant Governor Billy Nungesser. Six-year-old Bridges integrated Frantz. “This Civil Rights Trail marker unveiling is a continuation of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism’s commitment to recognize and bring to life Louisiana’s role in the modern civil rights movement.”
There were widespread boycotts with white parents pulling their children out of both schools. All four girls were met with death threats, racial slurs, and taunts. It took another decade for New Orleans public schools to fully integrate.
Among those at the unveiling Thursday was Carl Bridges, Ruby Bridges’ brother.
“It’s an honor for me to be here representing my sister, knowing the struggle that she went through,” said Bridges, who also recalled the fear and uncertainty his family faced in the wake of the brave decision to allow six-year-old Ruby to integrate Frantz.
“It was a scary time that we were going through, My father’s job fired him because he wouldn’t take my sister out of the school, and a lot of the stores wouldn’t sell to us any more because my parents didn’t take my sister out of (Frantz Elementary).”
The recent unveiling brings the total number of unveiled Louisiana Civil Rights Trail markers to eight. So far, seven of 15 planned interpretive markers have been unveiled, including two others in New Orleans. One is placed at Dooky Chase Restaurant, where owners Edgar Jr and Leah Chase made an upstairs meeting room available to local and national leaders of the Civil Rights Movement to plan and strategize the their efforts. Another is located at New Orleans’ other historic school desegregation site, McDonogh 19 Elementary School.