The Civil Rights Era: The Ruby Bridges Movie

Ruby Bridges was one of the first young African American children to go to an all-white school. She faced a lot of people yelling at her because of her race and going to the all-white school, and this scared her a bit, but Ruby pushed through it and got her education that she always wanted. This young girl taught the world about what she did just by Ruby going to the school, actually doing the work, and completing the school year. The Ruby Bridges movie has helped me better understand the Civil Rights Era by looking at a 6-year-old girl. The movie then also gave me a better understanding of this era rather than a normal History book.

Ruby Bridges has helped me obtain a better understanding of the Civil Rights Era when looking at someone at the age of 6. The movie opened my eyes when looking at the Civil Rights Era because I got to see what was happening to this young girl going to the all-white school, and watching her feelings and how she changed a bit as the movie progressed. When we first see Ruby going to school, she was so happy about going to school and getting a better education for herself. Once Ruby got to the school with her mom, there were people outside of the school yelling at her because she was going to the school. Then they called her some racial slurs and would tell her to go back to where she came from. Then one of the little boys’ mothers that Ruby becomes friends with in the end told Ruby that she was going to kill her. Then as the movie went on, another woman who was a bit older had a doll in a casket and showed it to Ruby, which symbolized what the woman wanted to happen to Ruby if she continued going to the school.

Then sometime later one of the moms said they would poison Ruby’s food. This caused Ruby to not eat any food that was made by her mom for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, so the only things Ruby would have is a bag of chips and Coke. This comment really got to her, and Ruby was already small enough as is, and she would not eat because she was afraid of what that woman would do. Ruby only wanted to go to school and get a proper education like all of the other children in the school. Ruby was doing somewhat okay, and then this woman said she would poison her, and that made her stop and change; it made Ruby worry about herself.

Ruby then was also having nightmares because of the people yelling at her when she was going to school. She also drew pictures with her psychiatrist, and the white people were drawn perfectly, but she drew the African American people as deformed. This demonstrates Ruby’s PTSD from what was happening at the school. Then, at the end of the school year, Ruby did a test to prove what she learned, and she scored really well on the exam. When Ruby’s teacher saw her grades, she was so happy, but then the school counselor said she was going to drop Ruby’s grades 2 letters to better reflect the circumstances of her education. She wanted to put Ruby’s race to her grades, but Ruby scored well so her grades should have been kept the same. Ruby’s teacher and another teacher stood up for Ruby to not get her grade changed. This is really not fair for Ruby; if this was another white student, their grade would not have been changed. Their grade would have stayed the same no matter what the grade was, but since Ruby was an African American student, they would bring down her grade because of her race and people thinking that all African Americans were seen as less intelligent.

Then around the middle of the movie, Ruby and her dad went into the Jewish-owned grocery store that they always went to because they were friends with the owner, and they needed to buy milk. The owner then told them to never come back because of what was going on with Ruby. The owner is a Jewish white woman, and there were 2 racist men in the store watching her to make sure she told Ruby and her father to never come back into the store ever again. This is not fair at all for Ruby and her family, but also for the owner of the store. The Jewish woman was probably scared of what would happen to her because she is a woman and is seen as someone that is defenseless; women did what the men said no matter what. If the racist men in the store say, “Don’t let the African Americans in the store again,” she would agree with it and say something to them to make sure they are safe from the men. I also saw this as a way to keep Ruby safe from the men that were in the store; if Ruby would have come into the store again and the men were there, they could hurt Ruby or others in her family. So in a way, Ruby was kept safe from the 2 racist men in the store by the Jewish owner.

The Ruby Bridges movie gave me a better understanding and another point of view rather than a normal history book. When looking at a history book, you are only getting one person’s point of view, as well as their own viewpoints. When you watch a movie on the same topic, you get to see everything that is happening to surround the characters. When watching Ruby Bridges, we got to see everything that happened to her through another person’s point of view, which was as if we had a front-row seat at watching what was happening to her. If we had just read about Ruby going to school in a book, we would not have seen how all of the people protesting would affect Ruby to where she would not eat her food that her mother made for her. We would have known a few of the phrases that the people used against Ruby, but we would not have known about the woman that wanted to poison her or even the lady that had the doll in a made-up casket. When reading a history book, we are only looking at the perspective of the person who wrote the book; we are not understanding what happened from the actual person. This then can create a form of bias: the person who wrote the book could have been against African Americans, so he would only write about what the whites did, but kept it on the lower side so then it didn’t seem like what they were doing was bad. When watching a movie about the Civil Rights Movement/Era, everyone gets to see personally on what has happened to Ruby, and what she went through to get where she is today. When learning about something from history, I prefer to watch a movie over the topic, so then I can see what is happening in different perspectives on the matter at hand. When writing a book or producing a movie on a big topic that affected the world, you have to get all of the information that is correct, and all of the perspectives on what is happening during that time. Movies have a much better way of explaining what happens during a certain era because you get more than one perspective.

To conclude, movies give the audience a better understanding of a movement or era than a normal history book. Ruby Bridges helped me understand the Civil Rights Era more because I got to take a look at it through a 6-year-old girl’s perspective. This movie is very educational and I enjoyed seeing something different about the Civil Rights Movement. Normally we see something on Martin Luther King Jr, but it was nice to see a little girl go to an all-white school and beat the odds.

07 July 2022
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