Ruby Bridges is being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on her TV show, Oprah: Where Are They Now? on January 1 at 8pm. Bridges, now 60 years old, was the first black child to attend an all-white school in the South–in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1960. She was 6 years old on her first day of school. A large crowd of people threw things and shouted at “the littlest Negro girl you ever saw, dressed in shining starchy white, with new white shoes on feet so little they were almost round,” as Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck described her in Travels with Charley. Ruby Bridges was threatened daily. Her father lost his job.
Bridges graduated, went on to become a travel agent for 15 years, and became a wife and mother to four sons. During the interview, Oprah asks Bridges for her take on the protests regarding Ferguson and Eric Garner. Bridges says she sympathizes with Michael Brown’s family and Trayvon Martin’s family as her own son, Craig, was shot to death on a New Orleans street corner at the age of 17. The shooter was never identified. While Bridges says she agrees there’s a pattern of unarmed black men being shot by police, she also says, “We should be marching in the streets, but we should be marching in the streets for all the violence that is happening across the country…we need a cease fire of violence, across the board. Black on black crime, police shootings…we need to take responsibility for all of it” if we really want change.