One November morning in 1960, four first-grade girls broke ground when they set foot in their new schools. Flanked by U.S. Marshals and mobbed by angry protestors, six-year-olds Leona Tate,Gail Etienne, Tessie Prevost, and Ruby Bridges walked toward two all-white institutions, kickstarting the desegregation process in New Orleans—making history one step at a time.
Tate, Etienne, and Prevost were tasked with integrating into McDonogh 19 Elementary School; Bridges, who stars in a celebrated Civil Rights painting, was famously assigned to William Frantz Elementary School. Though all four figures played an equally important part in the desegregation of the South, the story of the “McDonogh Three” has been overshadowed—and Tate wants to bring it to light.