Ruby Bridges (L) with SR2S Manager Denise Turner
The Walk and Roll theme for the Alameda County Safe Routes to Schools (SR2S) Program in November is Ruby Bridges Day. Students will walk or roll on November 14 to honor Ruby Bridges’ bravery in being a pioneer for equal educational opportunities for all children.
Who is Ruby Bridges?
On November 14, 1960, Bridges walked into William Frantz Elementary School, a few blocks from where she lived. At age six, Bridges was the first Black child to enroll in the formerly all-white school, advancing the movement for school integration.
The path Bridges walked wasn’t easy. Federal marshals walked her into school every day that year as angry protesters shouted at her and her mother. Louisiana was forced to desegregate its schools by court order, but the other students and most of the teachers shunned the school’s first Black student.
Yet Bridges persevered, attending integrated schools through high school graduation and becoming an advocate for equal rights for all students. Her story shows what even the youngest among us can accomplish when we stand up for justice.
Ruby Bridges Visits Ruby Bridges Elementary
Bridges continues to provide inspiration for students and educators, breaking down barriers to educational opportunities. On November 14, 2022, she visited Ruby Bridges Elementary School in Alameda. Students greeted her holding signs saying things like, “I walk with Ruby for love.”
Ruby Bridges talks to Ruby Bridges Elementary students in 2022.
After speeches by student council members and guests, including Alameda’s mayor, Alameda CTC Program Manager Denise Turner, and the Superintendent of Schools, the MusicNotes performed their song, “Walk to School Like Ruby Did.” Students walked around the school, passing a statue of Bridges, as family and staff cheered them on.
TransForm site coordinators and Alameda County SR2S arranged an assembly with more MusicNotes performances and a speech by Bridges, who also made classroom visits. It was a thrilling and inspiring Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day for everyone.
Ruby wasn’t alone in walking to school
In the 1960s, nearly half of all students walked or biked to school. A 2016 study found that, at most schools, fewer than 10% of youth walked or biked each day. The decline in walking and biking leads to poorer physical health and robs students of a vital opportunity to get the wiggles out before school or wind down after a long day.
The most common reason young people don’t walk to school is the distance, but other factors, such as concerns about safety from traffic and crime, also make parents uncomfortable letting their children walk to school. SR2S works with families and schools to overcome barriers and help youth experience the joy and freedom of safely walking and rolling to school.
Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day 2023
On November 14, 2023, students from around the Bay Area and across the country will walk to school in honor of Ruby Bridges’ historic walk into the classroom on that day in 1960. AAA sponsors the event in partnership with the Ruby Bridges Foundation. Many schools in Alameda County will participate in what we expect will be a fun day and a chance to acknowledge the historic achievements of one six-year-old girl.