Louisiana desegregation

U.S. Marshalls escort Ruby Bridges to integrate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans in 1960.
United States Government

When Americans are taught the story of school desegregation, they learn about the 1954 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. The Board of Education. But much of the work of desegregation happened outside the courtroom. Black children, some as young as six, put their bodies on the line every time they entered a white school, and nearly all of them were girls.

Race and Education in New Orleans traces the history of education back to 1764.
Courtesy of Walter C. Stern

When talking about the history of education in this New Orleans, school reformers often point to the problems in the school system in the decades before Hurricane Katrina: financial mismanagement, corruption and abysmal graduation rates. But one education researcher has recently written a book taking a longer view. 

The Other Empty Classroom: Bearing Witness To Desegregation

Feb 15, 2018
The Historic New Orleans Collection

When Ruby Bridges walked through an angry crowd to attend her newly integrated school in 1960, there was a white girl sitting in another empty classroom down the hall. Pam Foreman attended William Frantz Elementary School during this first year of integration. Her mother, Nyra, remembers the experience vividly. In this edition of NOLA Life Stories, we hear from Nyra about what was going through her mind during that turbulent time.