Congratulations to Charles Burks, a Logansport native who was honored by the Indiana Civil Rights Commission.

Burks was one of three people to receive the “Spirit of Justice” award during a ceremony at the Indiana State Museum.

He was one of the U.S. marshals who escorted Ruby Bridges into a previously segregated elementary school in New Orleans in 1960. She was the first black child to attend the school.

Burks knew when he went to New Orleans that he might be in for trouble. When the child and her escorts arrived at the school, there was a large group of demonstrators gathered, yelling and throwing tomatoes and eggs.

Burks also took part in the integration of the University of Mississippi and at universities in Georgia and Alabama. In some cases, he said, the local police were more of an obstacle than the protesters. He recalled that the Mississippi State Police tried to set up a trap for the marshals when they arrived in Oxford.

His wife of 62 years, Betty, told a Kokomo Tribune reporter that the actions of her husband and the other U.S. marshals had been forgotten through the years by everyone except Bridges. She recalled worrying about him every time he left home.

Burks says he never regretted the time he spent in the integration efforts.

“It was the right thing to do,” he said.

Burks’ grandson, Rick, traveled from Chicago for the ceremony.

“It’s pretty amazing to see a part of history,” he said. “He led an incredible life.”

Indeed.

– Pharos-Tribune, Logansport, and Kokomo Tribune

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