Mayor LaToya Cantrell recognized Lucille Bridges' contributions in a statement Tuesday night.
“Today we mourn the loss of one of the mothers of the Civil Rights Movement in New Orleans with the passing of Lucille Bridges — mother of five, including Ruby Bridges,” Cantrell said. “May she rest in God’s perfect peace.”
Cantrell said Ruby’s father, Abon Bridges, was initially reluctant to send his daughter to the all-white William Frantz Elementary School as a first grader in 1960, at the request of the NAACP. But his wife insisted. According to the National Women’s History Museum, Lucille Bridges wanted her daughter to have the education she never had. She walked her daughter to school every day, the museum said.
“Lucille’s strength was unbounded during this period,” Cantrell said, adding: “Lucille insisted, seeing the action as an opportunity to help all Black children, and walked Ruby, with federal marshals, past chanting and taunting white protesters and to the schoolhouse. Mother and daughter both revealed their character and courage.”
Bridges, too, endured hardship as she pushed for her daughter to receive an equal education, WGNO-TV reported.
The news outlet said Bridges was born to sharecroppers in Mississippi and did not finish an elementary school education. But she was determined for her daughter to pursue the same opportunities that her white peers received.
The Bridges family eventually moved to New Orleans in search of better work and education opportunities, according to the National Women’s History Museum. Abon Bridges died in 1978.
The image of Ruby from the Rockwell painting has gotten renewed attention in recent days in an adapted version that shows Vice President-elect Kamala Harris walking alongside Ruby. Harris is the first Black woman elected to the vice presidency.