At my teacher development today we did a VTS activity using a photograph of Ruby Bridges. As I was looking at the picture of a tiny six year-old with pigtails and a determined stance, I lost my breath. I couldn't stop myself from imagining sending Norah off to first grade amidst a mob screaming at her, holding up coffins with little black baby dolls, threatening to poison her food. What kind of courage would it take, as a parent, to choose to march your child into that type of situation? Would I have the strength to risk sacrificing one of my own kids for something I believed in? I'd like to think so, but I have to admit that my gut reaction is a resounding No. Not my child. Can't they send someone else's baby?
Ruby Bridges's mother was a cleaning lady and her father was a gas station attendant who was fired because of their decision to allow Ruby to integrate her grade school. They eventually divorced and Ruby's mom raised their eight children in a Florida housing project. Her grandparents were kicked off the land they'd sharecropped for 25 years because their granddaughter was in the news. Can you imagine?
Of course I have enormous respect for Civil Rights leaders like Dr. King. At the same time, the stories that bring me to tears are most often those of the unsung heroes who never enjoyed fame or admiration - everyday people who took a stand and did their part to make a change.