I was assigned, in 1968, to a Long Island
school with another student teacher. My first
graders, curious about me, gawked, as only
five & six year olds do, at the brown-skinned
teacher. Just eight years earlier, Ruby Bridges,
in plaid jumper, bows on her Mary Janes,
was escorted by four US Marshalls through
doors of a New Orleans School- a pioneer
with baby teeth. The crowd behind barriers
jeered, yelled, threw things. Ruby thought
the commotion was Mardi Gras and smiled.
Faith, forged in this child, cemented belief
that God would protect her. She would
spend the year alone with one teacher
as her only friend. Ruby never missed
a day of school. I also loved school and
attended a different Long Island school
system. There were Blacks, Puerto Ricans
on my bus stop, but I never made friends
with any. Was it because not one, from
elementary school through high school,
was in my (college-bound) classes?