Nov. 14, 1960

Credit: Courtesy of Scholastic

Federal marshals escorted 6-year-old Ruby Bridges into William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. Day after day, whites jeered at the Mississippi native and three other Black children, Leona Tate, Gail Etienne and Tessie Prevost, who became the first to attend all-white elementary schools in the South. 

Many white families left the school in protest, but Barbara Henry stayed and taught Bridges. Norman Rockwell depicted Bridges’ entry in his painting “The Problem We All Live With,” and she received the Presidential Citizens Medal in 2001. There is now a statue of her outside the elementary school, which bears her name. 

“I was an innocent child that knew absolutely nothing about what was happening that day,” she recalled, “but I learned a very valuable lesson — we should never look at a person and judge them by the color of their skin. That’s the lesson I learned in first grade.”

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The stories of investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell have helped put four Klansmen and a serial killer behind bars. His stories have also helped free two people from death row, exposed injustices and corruption, prompting investigations and reforms as well as the firings of boards and officials. He is a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a longtime member of Investigative Reporters & Editors, and a winner of more than 30 other national awards, including a $500,000 MacArthur “genius” grant. After working for three decades for the statewide Clarion-Ledger, Mitchell left in 2019 and founded the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting.