Ruby Nell Bridges Hall, famously known as Ruby Bridges, was born on September 8, 1954, to Lucille and Abon Bridges in Tylertown, Mississippi. Her family relocated to New Orleans, Louisiana when she was four years old. She left her mark in America as an American civil rights activist. On November 14, 1960, during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis, she became the first African-American child to attend the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana to desegregate (Miller, 2011).
For a young girl, she was only six years old, Bridges made history through her boldness and courage, as she was escorted to school by security guards, amidst crowds of white protestors threatening and insulting her. She took a test that was made especially hard to ensure that no black child would pass it, thus maintaining the status quo of segregation. The fact that she passed the test was a testimony that black children were intelligent enough to measure up with the white children, thus shaking the foundation of segregation. To this day, she is still a civil rights activist, advocating for the children’s right to access quality education. And she still lives in New Orleans with her husband, after she left the workforce after 15 years to become a full-time parent.
Impact of Ruby Bridges on the Community
Although Bridges was just a child, she did not allow age to hinder her from making a difference. Being born during the Civil Rights Movement, and given that she joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). She played a significant role in taking the first step in empowering African-Americans in the United States. Her story is demonstrative of the power children have in creating positive change through their boldness and courage (Mac & Tait, 2010). As an adult, Bridges is an advocate for children, through the Ruby Bridges Foundation. The Ruby Bridges Foundation aims to protect children from the harmful effects of racism by promoting tolerance, appreciation, and respect for diversity. Bridges has received several honors and awards for her anti-racism campaigns, as well as her significance in African-American history (Brown, 2011). African-Americans enjoying desegregated schools today because of the efforts of bold individuals such as Bridges that took the first step to fight against injustice regardless of the obstacles.
Lessons for Early-Career Sales Folks and Sales-Leaders
Ruby Bridges made a difference when she was only six years old. It is never too early for anyone to impact positive change. This is a significant lesson for early-career sales professionals, as it empowers them to embrace opportunities to excel and leave footprints even when they are new in the industry. Leaders can also learn to never underestimate the power of young individuals in the market, regardless of their age or inexperience.
Furthermore, Bridges’ story reminds us that it takes a lot of courage to break barriers and reach for success. We can see obstacles as part of our path but they should not make us feel discouraged.
Bridges, although young, did not heed the threats and insults of the angry white protestors, although facing this must have been scary and traumatizing. Today, sales professionals and leaders must stand firm in their beliefs and uphold their values boldly for success. Timidity and cowardice steal opportunities and lead to stagnation. Leaders must be risk-takers!
Brown, DeNeen L. (2011). “Norman Rockwell painting of Bridges is on display at the White House”. The Washington Post.
Mac, T., & Tait, M. (2010). “In a Class of Only One: Ruby Bridges”. www.cbn.com. Christian Broadcasting Network.Miller, M (2010). “Ruby Bridges, Rockwell Muse, Goes Back to School”. CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. CBS Interactive Inc.