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Civil Rights Figure: US Divided by Race Again

  • VOA News

FILE - Civil rights icon Ruby Bridges speaks during PBS’ "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates Jr." session at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in Los Angeles.

FILE - Civil rights icon Ruby Bridges speaks during PBS’ "The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross with Henry Louis Gates Jr." session at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour in Los Angeles.

The image of a little, six-year-old African American girl being escorted to school by U.S. marshals is seared into the memory of many Americans.

Ruby Bridges is now 60 years old and on Friday the school in New Orleans that she desegregated is unveiling a statue in her likeness, 54 years to the day after when she first walked up the steps to William Frantz Elementary School.

Bridges said in an interview with the Associated Press that America today looks a lot like the world she helped break apart; a nation with segregated schools and racial tension.

Bridges said "you almost feel like you're back in the '60s." She noted the tense events in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white police officer shot and killed a young, unarmed African American man, revelations about racist comments from white owners in the National Basketball Association whose players are predominately African American, and the failure of so many American schools to become racially mixed.

During the ceremony at the school Friday, Bridges will be reunited with the white teacher who taught her and the sole-surviving U.S. marshal who walked her to school.

Her mother, who was adamant about sending her daughter to the all-white school, will also be at the reunion.

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