Nearly 400 Seth Boyden Elementary School students took a walk yesterday afternoon to commemorate the historic bravery of a six-year-old girl named Ruby Bridges who walked to a federally desegregated public school in Louisiana on November 14, 1960 in the face of fierce racism.
“I am so proud of our students who remembered the courage of a little girl who took a stand against racism and segregation, and showed everyone that you are never too young to make a big difference,” said Dr. Kevin Gilbert, Acting Superintendent of the South Orange & Maplewood School District. Gilbert was among the educational leaders who participated in the walk.
“Today, our students learned just how much a child can accomplish,” said Seth Boyden Elementary School Principal Shannon Glander, who also joined in the walk. “I want to thank our Fifth Grade Safety Patrol and their faculty mentors for their leadership in planning our very first Ruby Bridges Walk.
The idea to hold a Ruby Bridges Walk To School Day on November 14th originated in 2018 with a group of AAA School Safety Patrollers from Martin Elementary in South San Francisco. When the Seth Boyden Fifth Grade Safety Patrol learned about the day, they began working with their faculty mentors, Donna Friedrich and Vanessa Laforest to plan today’s walk at Seth Boyden.
At an assembly in the school’s auditorium before the walk, Friedrich gave all of the credit to the Fifth Grade Safety Patrol members.
“They collaborated, they researched, they designed, and most importantly they brought us all here together today to honor a civil rights icon,” Friedrich said.
Three patrol members narrated a slide presentation that recounted her being the first African-American student to enroll at the William Franz Elementary School in New Orleans and the racist taunting by angry mobs that she was subjected to as she walked to the school.
“And now anybody of any race can go to this school,” one student said.
“She made a big difference at only the age of six,” the three students said in unison.
Other students spelled out Bridges’ first name, with each letter standing for one of her notable characteristics – resilience, united, brave, youth.
One of the highlights of the assembly was a video-recorded message from Bridges herself in which she encouraged everyone to dialogue with each other to make positive changes in the world.
“We are going to need everyone we can find, especially young people, to collectively come together to make a difference in the world,” Bridges said.