- West Orange Public Schools
Redwood and St. Cloud Elementary Schools Join in "Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day"
On November 14, 1960, six year-old Ruby Bridges became the first African American child to desegregate William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, a formerly all-white public school.
On November 14, 2023, Redwood and St. Cloud Elementary Schools in West Orange recognized the historic civil rights milestone with walks honoring the life-changing steps of Ruby Bridges as she was escorted to William Frantz Elementary school flanked by federal marshals while white people hurled insults from the sidelines.
“Redwood, as well as other West Orange elementary schools acknowledge this day to recognize the bravery of Ruby Bridges. The students also learn that you are never too young to do what is right,” said Redwood Principal Kimya Jackson.
With the landmark Supreme Court ruling of “Brown vs. the Board of Education” in 1954, which ruled that U.S. state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional, even if the segregated schools are otherwise equal in quality, Ruby Bridges' steps marked a huge leap in the civil rights movement. Bridges was one of six students who passed a test for entrance into William Frantz. Although the school was close to the Bridges’ home, her parents were divided about her attending. Mrs. Bridges' logic that Ruby could have “the “educational opportunities that her parents had been denied” turned the tide on their decision to have Ruby attend there.
Parents pulled their children out of Ruby’s class and one teacher, Barbara Henry, agreed to teach her every course. By providing an inclusive environment, Henry helped make Ruby’s first year “good.” This inspired other black families to begin enrolling their children, and the movement took off.
Both Henry and Bridges are still alive today. Bridges continues her work as a civil rights activist and founded The Ruby Bridges Foundation, which aims to “offer programs and resources to guide and support younger generations on their pathway toward a more peaceful and harmonious future.”
Bridges said in regards to her life’s work, “My message is really that racism has no place in the hearts and minds of our children.”
In 2021, students in California petitioned the legislature, and Nov. 14 was recognized as “Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day.” Students all over California participated that year. As the movement began to spread, Redwood and St. Cloud held their inaugural events in 2022.
In addition to the walk, Redwood and St. Cloud classes learned about Ruby Bridges and created signs, pictures, and posters to walk with.
"I am so proud of our students at St. Cloud," noted Superintendent Hayden Moore, who had stopped by the event.
"They are learning about how one brave little girl changed history for the better. It is my hope that they carry that truth with them and know they can change the world for good as well."
Ruby Bridges' website adds that Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day is “an annual day of dialogue to commemorate her historic steps. These students will continue the conversation and take part in their own forms of activism to bring an end to racism and all forms of bullying."
SEE ALL THE PHOTOS FROM RUBY BRIDGES WALK TO SCHOOL DAY HERE.
Ruby Bridges attends her first day of school at William Frantz Elementary flanked by Federal Marshals. (Photo: MSN.com)
Ruby Bridges with teacher Barbara Henry in 2004. (Photo: Jeremy Clowe for Norman Rockwell Museum)
St. Cloud Principal Eric Price and Superintendent Hayden Moore address students
Students gather for the walk
Nov. 15, 2023