On this day in 1954, the United States Supreme Court ruled unanimously, in the case of Brown versus Board of Education, that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. The trial came about after young Linda Brown was denied access to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas due to the color of her skin. Six years later in New Orleans, Louisiana, Lucille and Abon Bridges made the decision to send their six-year-old daughter Ruby to an all-Caucasian school. Ruby attended school escorted by federal marshals and endured viscous protestors. In solitude (the rest of the students withdraw from the class), Ruby attended every day of her first grade year, the singular student of Barbara Henry. Ruby Bridges still lives in New Orleans and serves as chair of the Ruby Bridges Foundation, an organization she formed in 1999 to promote “the values of tolerance, respect, and appreciation of all differences.”

Marion Coleman of Castro Valley, California made this quilt, titled “Ruby Bridges: What a Difference A School Makes,” in 2006. The 41½” square wall quilt includes images and phrases printed and stitched on fabric. The quilting is described as follows: Quilted in red thread: “Tessie Provost” “Gail Etienne” “Leonna Tate” “Mrs. Barbara Hershey teacher” “Marshall’s” “Ruby Bridges” “United States” Quilted in black thread, “Jim Crow” “family” “friends” “community” “programs” “coleman” “rulers” Quilted in white thread, “pencils” “integration” “courage” “books” “letters”. The quilt is part of the Michigan State University Museum’s permanent collection.

View this quilt on The Quilt Index to read more about it’s history, design and construction. Be sure to use the zoom tool for a detailed view.


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Posted by Amy E. Milne
Executive Director, Quilt Alliance