Ruby Bridges: Some Questions for Discussion
Norman Rockwell, The Problem We All Live With

1. Harry Belafonte, in his introduction to Through My Eyes, Ruby Bridges’ account of her life and contribution to civil rights, says that “Nothing can be more moving than watching a small black child climbing the steps to her elementary school that historically and legally did not welcome her presence.” Based on your understanding of Ruby Bridges and her time, respond to Harry Belafonte’s statement.

2. Read author John Steinbeck’s account of Ruby Bridges’ entry into the William Frantz Elementary School in his book Travels with Charley.

a. Explain why Steinbeck’s account represents vivid and memorable writing.

b. Norman Rockwell’s famous illustration of Ruby Bridges took its inspiration from Steinbeck’s account. Identify the elements of Rockwell’s work that likely evolved from Steinbeck’s account.

3. Artist and illustrator Norman Rockwell’s depiction of Ruby Bridges’ challenge appeared on the January 14, 1964 cover of Look magazine. Rockwell called his painting “The Problem We All Live With.” Do you think this is a good title for the painting? Why or why not? Is “the problem” closer to a solution today? Why or why not?

4. The 1954 Supreme Court, in a landmark case known as Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, stated that segregation of children in educational facilities creates “a feeling of inferiority…that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.” Defend or challenge this statement, giving reasons for your point of view.

5. Ruby Bridges showed courage as a six-year-old challenging school segregation. Describe the individual and organizational contributions of other young people, especially young college students, in America’s struggle for civil rights.

6. How did Ruby’s white teacher, Barbara Henry, help Ruby through her ordeal? Explain how a teacher has helped you succeed in a struggle you experienced.