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“The Problem We All Live With”  by Norman Rockwell is currently on display at the White House, just outside the president’s office. It shows Ruby Bridges, the most famous of the children who in 1960, at the age of 6, walked into an all-white school and helped desegregate the schools of New Orleans. Daddy’s brave little girl, indeed. Never forget. I’d like to believe that the Civil Rights Movement has become a part of the core of our civil religion.

Ruby’s shoes. Ruby shoes.

In the song Ruby’s Shoes by Lori Mckenna, from 2002, it seems to me her story has become almost generic. Ruby is Everygirl, just like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, whose ruby shoes in the film help her get back home to Kansas. Ruby is Everygirl, just like Anne Frank.  – Ruby Bridges recollects:

Scenes from a Disney, made for TV movie. Some very nice Norman Rockwell-like scenes of the intact black community.

Ruby’s Shoes, 2002

by Lori McKenna

Ruby’s shoes would take her
A mile or so to school every day
Where the white people hated her
They’d scream and hold signs and tell her to go away

But Ruby’s will was stronger
Than the bigots with the signs could ever know
She stopped every morning on the corner
And prayed that someday the pain would go

And she’d stop and she’d pray
That all the hatred would go away
She was only six years old but she knew
Walk a mile in Ruby’s shoes

Ruby sat alone in the classroom
She never dreamed the other children wouldn’t come
They hated her for the color of her skin
Well color is such an amazing illusion

She’d stop and she’d pray
That all the hatred would go away
She was only six years old but she knew
Walk a mile in Ruby’s shoes

Now Ruby knew about Dorothy
And the ruby shoes that she wore
She wondered about Oz sometimes
Well, well no other child ever walked her shoes before

And she’d stop and she’d pray
That all the hatred would go away
She was only six years old but she knew
Walk a mile in Ruby’s shoes

Ruby, if birds can always fly
Why oh why can’t you and I?

Ruby’s shoes would take her
A mile or so to school every day
Where the white people hated her
They’d scream and hold signs and tell her to go away

And she’d stop and she’d pray
That all the hatred would go away
She’d stop and she’d pray
That no other children would be raised this way
Ruby’s shoes

If birds can fly
Then why oh why
If birds can fly then why oh why can’t I

Features of connected speech:

assimilation: when words are spoken together and the sounds at the word boundaries change
s can change to sh: this shop => thish shop or Ruby’s shoes =>rubysh shoes
t, d, n at the end assimilate to the place of articulation to become bilabial: in bed => im bed
d can change to g: good girl =>goog girl
voiced can become unvoiced: have to go => haf to go
d and y can fuse to j: how d’you do => how jou do

elision: omitting sounds, esp. d and t, between words
next please => nex please
Ruby’s shoes =>ruby shoes

vowel reduction and weak forms:
You and me => You
ənd me
If birds can fly => If birds cən fly

She should əv known better. She shəd ə known I’d wait.

laison: her English => her ringlish
brother and sister => brother rən sister

intrusive r and w:
no other => no wother