Bronze sculpture honors civil rights icon

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) - Hundreds braved the cold to take part in honoring a civil rights icon.

More than five decades ago 6-year old Ruby Bridges was one of the first African American students to integrate an all-white school.

A sculpture commemorating her heroic efforts was unveiled Friday at William Franz School.

WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter was there.

"I loved school," honoree Ruby Bridges said.

And perhaps it was her love for school that gave Ruby Bridges the courage

to overcome adversity.

It was 54-years ago that 6-year old Bridges made history, by walking up the steps of what was - an all-white public elementary school; despite blatant, in-her-face opposition.

"I know that I had a very short walk. All I needed to do was get out of the car and walk through the crowd and get inside of the building, into my classroom and I was going to have a good day."

"She, by staying in school every day, was able to fulfill the mission and make real the command and the law of Brown vs. Board in 1954," former teacher Barbara Henry said.

Friday, November 14th 2014 the civil rights icon was honored for being one of the first to integrate an all-white school.

"What you did and we thank you for I believe was god's intervention," Xavier University President Norman Francis said.

Bridges was not alone. In a rare reunion, she was surrounded by significant people who helped to move the nation forward.

Her mother, Lucille Bridges was honored. So too was her former teacher, Barbara Henry. And let's not forget Charles Burks. He's the last living federal marshal who walked bridges past angry crowds, and into William Frantz School back in 1960.

Bridges is quick to point out that none of what will be remembered for generations to come is about the honorees.

"It is about preserving history. It is about giving kids something to look up to," Bridges said.

Now that brave little girl is immortalized in a commemorative bronze sculpture that was unveiled outside the school.

"What transpired here will continue to be an effective source for making our country more whole and the tapestry that is our country more vibrant and dynamic than ever before," Henry said.

Bridges says the monument is dedicated to all children whose extraordinary sacrifices have contributed to the cause of social justice throughout the world.

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