Little Civil Rights Pioneer Reunites With US Marshal

Ruby Bridges meets with one of her school escorts, now 91

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Sep 5, 2013 6:37 PM CDT

(Newser) – Civil rights icon Ruby Bridges, who as a 6-year-old helped end public school segregation in the South, was reunited today with one of the federal marshals who escorted her past angry crowds so she could attend a previously all-white school. Bridges, who in 1960 became the first black child to attend an all-white school in New Orleans, met with Charles Burks at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis, which was filming the pair for its permanent exhibit called "The Power of Children." Burks, now 91, is the only one of the four marshals who escorted Bridges to and from school who is still alive.

"Thank you Charlie for doing what was right at a time when it might not have been the easiest thing to do," the 58-year-old Bridges told him. Burks said escorting Bridges to school was a highlight of his life, adding that he supported the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision that struck down segregation in public schools. Bridges was in first grade when she started attending William Frantz Elementary School on Nov. 14, 1960, as the court-ordered integration of public schools began in New Orleans. "It was a privilege," he said.

Ruby Bridges, right, who integrated Louisiana schools in 1960 under escort from U.S. Marshals, poses with Charles Burks, 91, who was one of those marshals.
Ruby Bridges, right, who integrated Louisiana schools in 1960 under escort from U.S. Marshals, poses with Charles Burks, 91, who was one of those marshals.   (Michael Conroy)
Ruby Bridges, right, who integrated Louisiana schools in 1960 under escort from U.S. Marshals, meets with Charles Burks, 91, who was one of those marshals.
Ruby Bridges, right, who integrated Louisiana schools in 1960 under escort from U.S. Marshals, meets with Charles Burks, 91, who was one of those marshals.   (Michael Conroy)
In this 1960 file photo, U.S. Deputy Marshals, including Charles Burks, top left, escort 6-year-old Ruby Bridges from William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans.
In this 1960 file photo, U.S. Deputy Marshals, including Charles Burks, top left, escort 6-year-old Ruby Bridges from William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans.   (anonymous)
Guarded by three deputy U.S. Marshals, including Charles Burks, top center, young Ruby Bridges enters newly integrated William Frantz school in New Orleans in 1960.
Guarded by three deputy U.S. Marshals, including Charles Burks, top center, young Ruby Bridges enters newly integrated William Frantz school in New Orleans in 1960.   ((AP Photo, File))
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