As the clock ticks down to Something to Smile About on Saturday there’s also the excitement of Ferocious Dog releasing Ruby Bridges as a digital single on Monday too. I talked about the song when previewing some of the rough cut tracks from the album a while ago, briefly summarising the subject and that the song was conceived in Dan’s mind when Ruby would’ve hit the news having just turned 60 last year in September.
Dan had earmarked the song as a potential idea for a co-written piece with Maelor Hughes, but subsequently liked what he’d started too much to not have it as a Ferocious Dog track that he finished off with Ken.
The story of Ruby Bridges is one of real inspiration though. In 1960 a federal court order decreed that public schools in New Orleans, where the Bridges family lived, were forced to desegregate. Put simply, white and black children were no longer to be educated separately. Black children from kindergarten were tested to see who would be put forward to go to an integrated school – Ruby duly passed this test and the first challenge was to overcome divisions within the family.
Her father was understandably reticent – worried that the act of his daughter going to a mixed school was ‘just asking for trouble’ whilst her mother saw the opportunity Ruby could have for a better education and future prospects, and of course the bigger picture of taking a opportunity of a real tangible step forward toward racial equality. Eventually after much debate within the family it was this view that won out, and it was decided that Ruby would indeed attend an integrated school in November 1960 – a date decided by a federal judge.