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On Nov. 14, 1960 Ruby Bridges became the first Black student to integrate an all-White school in New Orleans, La. Twenty years later, she spoke out about her experiences.

May 15, 1982

NEW ORLEANS (UPI) Defying 200 years of racism, 6 year old Ruby Bridges endured taunts of “nigger” and “communist” to integrate an all-white elementary school.

Twenty years later, she despairs of the public school system she helped create and has enrolled her children in private school.

Ruby Bridges Hall, a travel agent and mother of three, shuns publicity and can barely remember the violence and hatred surrounding her world in 1960.

The nation focused on William Frantz Elementary School on Nov. 14, 1960, when the skinny girl—imaccutely dressed in a snow-white dress and glossy shoes—dashed from a U.S. Marshall’s car through jeering mobs.

School children changed “we want segregation” and threw rocks at the frightened girl and army of police protecting her. Angry housewives, waving confederate flags, screamed “nigger, communist!”

“I remember little bitty things,” Mrs. Hall said. “Like there were lots of people in the streets and they were shouting different things and they were throwing things.”

Most everyone immediately yanked their children out of Frantz, and the all-white school became all-black. Ruby Bridges was the only student through first and second grade. Slowly, the scars of desegregation healed as the white children returned, one by one.

Federal authorities carefully guarded the skinny black girl for the first several years at Frantz, separating her from unfriendly classmates.

“I remembered not being able to eat lunch in the cafeteria. They thought someone might try to poison me,” she said. “It bothered me because I didn’t like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which I had to eat every day.”

Her parents lost their jobs when integration made headlines, and the NAACP supported the Bridges for several years. Friends in their all-black neighborhood near the dilapidated Florida housing project took turns guarding their house against attacks.

Despite the years of sacrifice and fear, Mrs. Bridges regrets nothing about her experience and feels proud of her contribution.

Ironically, two decades after she radically altered public education in the South, Mrs. Hall has abandoned the school system she helped create and placed her children in parochial schools.

“My son went to the school I started at and, I don’t like to down public schools, but he wasn’t really learning the way he should have,” she said. “I put him in a catholic school and he was so far behind he had to be tutored for a year. So now, they’re all in catholic schools.”