"Be the Change that you wish to see in the World" - Gandhi
Today marks the anniversary of Ruby Bridges' historic first day of school in New Orleans. The year was 1960 and racial tension was rising in the southern United States. Accompanied by 4 Federal Marshals, a brave little 6 year old girl with school books in hand crossed the line of segregation past angry, hate filled protesters and opened the doors for black children to attend school along side white children in the south.
Here is a picture of Ruby Bridges on the anniversary of her historic first day of school. Beside it is a picture of another little girl in the 1960s on her not so historic first day of school, escorted by her faithful collie dog. Side by side pictures of two little girls on their way to school, each in search of an education. Diminutive in stature, they walk tall and proud. Wearing dresses with ankle socks, hair bands on their heads, book bag and lunchbox in hand they set off to begin their life of learning. Both will grow up to be caring women, #activists in their own right. They could have been bookends in the many ways they were similar. Instead they were judged by their differences.
That little girl in the picture to the right is me.
So lets think about this. It wasn't about Ruby the person or Elisa the person back in the 1960s. It was about the world we lived in at that time in history and how we were perceived. The perception was that we were in fact different and should be treated accordingly. 50+ years have come and gone and still we are trying to make the world a better place. Perception seemingly remains incorrect.
Lets not succumb to the fear that is paralyzing our nation today. Instead we all need to follow Ruby’s lead and not match hatred with hatred. In her words "Don't follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail. When you start a new trail equipped with courage, strength and conviction, the only thing that can stop you is you!" Wise words from a courageous woman.