On Thursday of last week, PBS Newshour did a story on Ruby Bridges. She is a writer but is best known as a trailblazer for civil rights. 60 years ago, she was the first black child to desegregate an all-while elementary school in New Orleans. Many of us have seen those pictures of Federal marshals escorting her past groups of protestors into the William Frantz Elementary School. That walk was immortalized in a Norman Rockwell painting “The Problem We All Live With.” More recently, the image created by Bria Goeller puts Vice President Kamala Harris alongside Ruby’s shadow. The Norman Rockwell Museum noted that it celebrates “two historic moments that broke glass ceilings for women.”
In the interview, Ruby was asked to talk about a favorite part of her latest book and she responded “When I think about how great this country could be, America, land of the free, home of the brave, I think about what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said about being great. Everybody can be great because everyone can serve. You only need a heart full of grace. Really, it is that love and grace for one another that will heal this world.”
In a week when we have celebrated Dr. King’s life and inaugurated not only our first woman Vice President but first woman of color Vice President, those words from Dr. King are that much more meaningful.
Many of us have seen the news of how devastating the past year during Covid has been for women in the workplace. The Women in the Workplace study by McKinsey estimated that as many of a quarter of working women are contemplating a downshift to their careers or leaving the workplace entirely as a result of the Covid pandemic. This has the potential to greatly damage decades of progress for women. In a year of crises, this is just one more and it demands our attention. Let us hope that our leaders, political and business, will address how we can reverse this trend. It will be good for women and it will be good for business.
This week’s selection is:
Ruby Bridges (Disney+)
This film presents the real-life tale of young Ruby Bridges (Chaz Monet), one of the first African-American children to attend an integrated school in the Deep South. At only age 6, Ruby is selected to attend an all-white school in New Orleans, causing an uproar in the racially divided region. Among the people who try to help Ruby adjust to the tense situation are teacher Barbara Henry (Penelope Ann Miller) and Dr. Robert Coles (Kevin Pollak), a child psychiatrist.