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US Marshals escort Ruby Bridges into elementary school

Four US Marshalls escorted Ruby Bridges into a Louisiana school, ending the New Orleans school desegregation crisis.

One of the Marshals was Charles Burks but who were the other three?

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  • There was a reunification bettween Ruby Bridges and Charles Burks in 2013 and the news of that is everywhere. Also, this story claims Al Butler assigned the marshals but doesn't says whether Butler himself was in the protection detail. – chx Sep 9 '16 at 18:22
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    I am not entirely comfortable either, that's why I deleted my answer -- the other two you found were the escorts of "The McDonogh 3" and not Ruby Bridges. Rolled back. – chx Sep 9 '16 at 18:57
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+50

I shared the question with the US Marshal's service and received the following reply:

Thank you for your e-mail, which was forwarded to me. I knew the late Al Butler, and he told me he was at the McDonogh school, not the Ruby Bridges detail. He was directing the operation, but stayed at McDonogh. The deputies changed at least once, but Charlie Burks was lead at the Frantz School and stayed throughout. The other deputies are likely Ray Eschment, Jim French, and Jim Davis. The other widely distributed photograph does show the four of them—some from the back.

I have written extensively on this operation in Forging the Star (the book was released only about two months ago) on pages 37-45. D. Turk, Historian USMS,(personal email, 12 September 2016)

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One of the US Marshsll’s was my dad, William N. Darsey Sr. He is not in the picture above because he’s already further down the steps. I uploaded the picture with him in it below. So the gentleman who contacted the US Marshall’s office., I’m sorry but they got at least one name wrong.In the Rockwell print he is front/back. I do not know the names of the other 2. Hope this helps. Winnie enter image description hereenter image description here

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  • This is a new name again. Thanks! All I could find about him was his graduation from the FBI Academy six years later. – chx Dec 3 '18 at 8:24
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    i dont understand the order the pictures were taken in. Was yours taken after the OPs. It is obviously the same girl and the same school but there are two men with hats in the OPs picture and no hats in yours (and they arent carrying hats like they just took them off.) I am just trying to figure out how it all played out. – ed.hank Dec 3 '18 at 23:56
  • @chx-You're welcome. He wasn't with the Marshall's service long; if I'm not mistaken he left there and went to work for the GBI. He started the first narcotics division of the GBI and later became an Inspector for them. He was 4th from the top when he retired. It was many years later, after dad had retired, that he saw the Rockwell print at his sister's house; he did not realize it existed. Of course, we all immediately went out and got a print! He was asked to speak somewhere about it and I have a copy of the CD. It was just very neat to me that my dad was part of history. – Winnie Ison Dec 4 '18 at 14:53
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    Sorry, I do not know about the order of the pictures, it was hard to find this one that actually had a picture of dad from the front. It is almost like he avoided the press pictures and that would not surprise me, daddy was very protective of his family. He is in another one, where he is opening the car door but his back is to the camera again. – Winnie Ison Dec 4 '18 at 14:55
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We very likely have the names. Two are confirmed by the Washington Post:

Ruby Bridges will have a reunion of sorts today with Jesse Grider and Charles Burkes. In 1960, she was a little girl integrating one of New Orleans's public schools; they were federal marshals escorting her to class

And relatives posted the other two, so the list is:

  1. Charles Burks
  2. Jesse Grider (also see this answer with a comment from the nephew/niece of Grider)
  3. William N. Darsey Sr. this is quite a through answer from the daughter of Mr. Darsey.
  4. James Davis -- also the answer from the US Marshal's service itself mentions a "Jim Davis". The other names mentioned in that answer might have been at the Frantz school at another time.

Al Butler is confirmed by the US Marshals to be with the McDonogh Three and not at Frantz. This seems to be the case with Herschel Garner as well -- he might have been at Frantz but not when the famous photo was snapped. The 50th reunion videos Part I, Part II might have more confirmation but the available evidence makes me confident we have the four names right.

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In the top photo the US Marshal front left side of photo without a hat is James Davis of Bath, NC. He was my cousin (by marriage).

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The man top left in the picture in the question was later Clerk of Court of the US District Court of Western District of KY. His first name was Jesse but I can't remember his last.

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One of them is US Marshall Herschel Garner of Rison, AR. He was present in New Orleans with several school integrations during this time.

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    Do you have any evidence that he was one of the four escorting Ruby Bridges? – Steve Bird Nov 15 '20 at 14:17
  • It's likely in the video amistadresearch.wordpress.com/2011/04/19/… I don't have half an hour right now to listen to the video to clarify the role of Herschel Garner but he is in that video. – chx Nov 16 '20 at 20:20

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