The way that thirteen-year old Alicia Tucker imagined it, her small African American neighborhood of Utopia Hill near New Orleans was a perfect place. In her neighborhood, there were no wars, no prejudice, no violence, and no hatred. On a cool Saturday afternoon in November, she could hear the sounds of water running in the creek, children playing, and music that could be heard for long distances and that stayed in the air and your heart forever. Being on “the hill” made her feel that, despite the chilly weather, it was always springtime. She thought her school had a nice teacher and that everyone felt welcome there. She envisioned her school to be like a utopia. Yet it was on that very day, as she sat so peacefully, Alicia began to have doubts about her utopia.
It happened as she was reading Look Magazine, the bi-weekly magazine her parents got in the mail, when she glanced at the headline, “Ruby Bridges becomes the First Black Student to attend the previously All White School, William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana.” She read the following story:
On Monday November 14, 1960, six-year old Ruby Nells Bridges walked up the stone steps for her first day at William Frantz Elementary located in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was allowed to attend because she passed a test that said she would go to an integrated school. People were shouting and calling her names. Some of the white parents even went inside and removed their children from the premises. She had to be escorted by federal marshals to get inside the building. One of the white parents had a black doll in a coffin. Ruby seemed to be the most bothered by the doll than by anything else. She had to be taught by the only white teacher who would teach her, Mrs. Henry. There was a mob of people watching from the window of the principal’s office. They made her know that she didn’t belong.
Alicia was stunned as she finished reading the article. “Momma, why do white people treat black people so terribly?”
“Honey, some people don’t like us because we’re different, “Momma told her.
“But Momma, I don’t understand,” Alicia sighed.
“You will when you are older,” Momma told her.