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The true story of Ruby Bridges, an African-American girl who, in 1960 at age 6, helped to integrate the all-white schools of New Orleans. Although she was the only black girl to come to the school she was sent to, (and since all the white mothers pulled their children out of class, she was the only one there, period), and though she faced a crowd of angry white citizens every day, she emerged unscathed, physically or emotionally. Encouraged by her teacher, a white woman from the North named Barbara Henry, and her mother, Lucille, and with her own quiet strength, she eventually broke down a century-old barrier forever, a pivotal moment in the civil-rights movement. Written by
This film details the effects of racism on a first grader sent to an all white school in Louisiana in 1960. The child, Ruby Bridges, must endure the taunts of bigots in the street to protest her enrollment. What's even worse is that she encounters a bigoted teaching staff led by a vicious, prejudiced school administrator. Diana Scarwid catches the essence of bigotry in her performance. However, it is never pointed out who exactly she represents. Is she the principal, superintendent or school secretary? No matter who she is, she is the epitome of bigotry.
The film deals with the psychological trauma affecting Ruby and her family.
The child playing Ruby is just wonderful. Other acting kudos must go to the teacher who plays Mrs. Henry. She is kind and understanding. Kevin Pollak gives a wonderfully understated performance as the psychologist working with Ruby and her parents. Michael Beach is excellent as the father, who loses his job, during this situation and is bitter against everyone: Black neighbors who feel increasing pressure, a Jewish store owner who is pressured in telling Beach not to come into the store, and NAACP officials who he feels are not doing enough.
The film is an excellent one for trying to break down the religious and racial barriers that affect us all.
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