What with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day tomorrow, I thought I’d dust off a bit of history for everyone and feature a film about the first black student to attend integrated schools in Louisiana. And let’s be honest: You need more made-for-TV movies from the 1990s in your life.
Ruby Bridges is actually pretty great little movie. It stars Chaz Monet, Michael Beach, and Lela Rochon as the Bridges family (haven’t seen them in anything else, but they did a great job). The biggest name in the film is actually Kevin Pollak—not necessarily a household name but you’d recognize his face. This movie also has Penelope Ann Miller, who is best known, at least in my home, as the schoolteacher from Kindergarten Cop. (“There is no bathroom!”)
Usually I try to find some interesting trivia about the film or something to include, but instead you get this cool moment between the real Ruby Bridges and Barack Obama. While viewing a painting of her on display, the first black president of the United States turned to her and said, “I think it’s fair to say that if it hadn’t been for you guys, I might not be here and we wouldn’t be looking at this together.”
OH, SOMETHING YOU SHOULD KNOW: Another great moment.
The reason I was really impressed with this movie (…Ruby Bridges, not K-Cop) was that it wasn’t just about racial injustice, but about the perfect way to handle injustice.
Here was a six-year-old girl who faced an angry mob every single morning and afternoon outside her new school. Not only was this satanic group spewing awful words and death threats at this child, but at least one person dangled a small coffin with a doll inside that resembled Ruby. Absolutely sickening.
And yet, this little girl remembered the words of her mother, who often told her to pray if she was ever alone and afraid. “I prayed for the people,” Ruby later said. “That’s what I did.”
I’m not sure anyone, including Ruby, remembers exactly how many prayers she said or what words she used, but I like the way the movie puts it:
Please God, forgive these people, because even if they say those mean things, they don’t know what they’re doing, so you can forgive them. Just like you did those folks a long time ago when they said terrible things about you.
Chances are you’ve encountered angry or confused people in your life who treated you in a way you didn’t deserve—maybe even for a long time. But whatever unfair treatment you’ve received, whatever abuses you’ve endured, whatever dignity has been stripped from you, remember Jesus Christ knows exactly what you’ve gone through because He has endured it Himself.
The Lord showed us how to win: We win by being happy. We do not let others have the satisfaction of sending us down a bitter, crippling spiral of self-pity. Love, forgiveness, honor are the only way to lasting peace and healing.
Jesus did it. Ruby did it. You can do it.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” — Matthew 5:44