Ruby Bridges’ favorite quote: ‘We all have to get into good trouble’

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This past weekend was the 60th anniversary that Ruby Bridges desegregated New Orleans’ all-white William Frantz Elementary School. At the time Ruby was six years old. She was escorted to school by federal marshalls and her fearless mother because terrorizing angry mobs would gather outside everyday to protest her Black presence in their all-white school. Ruby’s mom passed away last week and one of Ruby’s tributes to her is below.

Ruby eventually became a life long civil rights activist and has recently signed a three book deal with Scholastic. Ruby spoke to Hoda Kotb for Today to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of New Orleans public schools and her role in it. In the interview, Hoda and Ruby reminisced about the first time they met over twenty years ago when Hoda was a reporter in New Orleans. Ruby said that she lives by John Lewis’s quote that “people need to get into good trouble.” Below are a few excerpts:

Hoda asked her for a quote she lives by
I think about John Lewis and I think about how he would say that we all have to get into good trouble. I kind of lived my life by that because of that experience at six years old. I’ve always felt like if we were going to get past our racial differences that it was going to come from our young people and that they need to get involved. Hearing him say ‘go out and get into good trouble,’ that was something that stuck with me and something I tell young people all the time.

It is so meaningful right now at this moment that we’re in. We need people to get into good trouble. All of us need to be doing something good to make this country better. My work is with young people. What John Lewis, what his life stood for, that whole quote inspires young people.

[From The Today Show on YouTube]

I love that Ruby is still very active in creating the America that her mother had hoped to create sixty years ago when Ruby was just six years old. It is very inspiring that she is reaching back to younger generations to encourage them to get into good trouble. It amazes me how incredibly resilient Ruby is. I cannot imagine what that little six year old girl was thinking as she had people yell and spit on her just because she wanted to go to school. The fact that that experience did not make her go into hiding as an adult astounds me. It is not lost on me that Ruby Bridges and the Civil Rights Movement was during my mom’s generation. It also not lost on me that my great great grandfather was born into slavery in this country. The history of America is very present and Black Americans are still struggling with the hand of those same oppressive systems that created generations of slavery and led to Jim Crow and an apartheid society.

There have been moments in my life where I believed in a better America. From 1994-97 I served in the U.S. Navy. In 2008, I was inspired for the first time in my life to get involved in politics so I volunteered to work on Barack Obama’s campaign at my university. For many years I lost faith in my country but this year, I again waded into the waters of politics in a non-political way and worked for three weeks as a poll worker. Soon I will be writing and sending postcards to remind potential voters in Georgia to vote in the runoff election in January. I say all of this because in some way I have had moments when I realized that I had to get into “good trouble” if I wanted to see a better America, and better world. Like Ruby and John I truly believe action is the antidote for complacency and despair.

I look forward to reading the books that Ruby writes and sharing them with all of my “god” children. I believe that we must our history, how far we’ve come and how far we must go. We need to encourage every generation to be actively involved in building our communities and dismantling systems of oppression so that we can have more equitable societies. Maybe then we can achieve a society in which we can all flourish with hard work and resilience.

Here’s that interview! Ruby had to use her phone as she lives in New Orleans and her power was out due to the hurricane:

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14 Responses to “Ruby Bridges’ favorite quote: ‘We all have to get into good trouble’”

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  1. Lortal says:

    Amazing woman

  2. Jane Doe says:

    Do people understand that there are many colour photographs of the civil rights movement? People use black and white photos to try and give the impression that the movement took place a long time ago. Gen X -folks in their 50s and 40s were the first “fully enfranchised” (kinda sorta) generation of Black folks in the US context because they were born after the Voting Rights Act. In many Caribbean and African nations people who are Gen X age. were the first generation born after independence. Gen Xers are the FIRST generation with somewhat more widespread (prison industrial complex notwithstanding) enfranchisement.
    Of course every state has done their part in finding new ways to prevent Black people and other racialized and Native people from voting since then. Think about it. Damn.

    • Brittney B says:

      …Ruby herself posted those photos & is in them, so yes, I think she understands.

      Valid point if it were a news outlet selecting them, though.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Odd comment. All of our family photos from the 1960s are b/w, there’s nothing devious behind that. Newspapers were all published in b/w in the 60s. And, at least in our family, the TV was b/w only, so our news was b/w.
      As for the article, amazing women, both Ruby and her mother Lucille.

  3. Astrid says:

    Thanks for the post

  4. G says:

    i too served i was in the army is was one of my greatest achievements. i will say trump made me feel unpatriotic he made me hate alo tof things and the hypocrisy of republicans loving vets and doing nothing for them has erode some of my love for this country. joe biden makes me feel hope again and i hope he can heal the wounds that have been opened over the last four yrs

    Ruby bridges is amazing! that picture with kamal walking next to her shadow made me cry

  5. Sarah says:

    Thank you for your service! Also thank you for pointing out again that segregation was not that long ago, I think a lot of people do not realize that it was not a centuries, but decades ago. I love that Celebitchy reports on these issues along with Hollywood gossip, you’re my first click of the day.

  6. MelY says:

    Seeing Ruby bravely walk through the hate that was spewed at her is awe inspiring. She is a hero for young girls everywhere. Her story is an important reminder of how one person can make a difference. Even if that one person is 6 years old. She shouldn’t have had to carry the weight of such an important moment. But her mother was there to support her. What an inspirational family!

  7. Caitrin says:

    Ms. Ruby is amazing. So is Leona Tate. Sadly, segregation is still very common in New Orleans, especially post-Katrina – it’s just masked under school choice, charter schools, and grade fixing.

  8. Noodle says:

    I loved reading a little about your story, Oya. So many times we tend to think distantly about issues, but it’s a good reminder how closely we are all intertwined and interdependent. I hope we all get in a little bit of good trouble today.

  9. ClaireB says:

    Ruby Bridges is a hero for continuing her civil rights work, when we’d have all understood if her traumatic childhood experiences made her want to run and hide.

  10. Lissdogmom02 says:

    Thank you for your service and also for such a meaningful article. I needed this today.