Schools were just being desegregated and little Ruby was the first black child to attempt to attend the William T Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans.
She had to walk through lines of angry protesters with a police escort.
Her teacher watched from a window inside the school.
One day she noticed that Ruby's was talking as she moved through the crowds.
She said to Ruby: 'I saw your lips moving but couldn't make out what you were saying to these people.'
'I wasn't talking to them' Ruby explained 'I was praying for them.'
Later a child psychiatrist, Dr Coles, who specialised in helping children who had lived through stressful situations, spoke to Ruby. He asked her what she prayed for as you walked by the protesters.
'I pray for me, that I would be strong and not afraid. I pray for my enemies that God would forgive them' she said.
Why did she do it? '"Jesus prayed that on the cross" she told Coles, as if that settled the matter. "Forgive them, because they don't know what they are doing."'
Ruby had got it, I told the congregation. And she was only six years old.
She had grasped what Jesus meant when he said: “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you. (Luke 6.27-28)
|Ruby and her classmates|