Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day will be held this year on Tuesday, November 14. We encourage schools across Oregon to host events on that day or another day in November! Incentive ordering will include special Ruby Bridges stickers and bookmarks along with standard incentives. Incentive ordering will open in October.
- Visit the Oregon Safe Routes to School website and the Ruby Bridges Foundation website to register your event and get event planning resources
- Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day printable poster (English and Spanish)
- Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day Bingo (English and Spanish)
In 1945 the US Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Brown v. the Board of Education ended racial segregation in public schools. However, southern states continued to resist. Ruby spent kindergarten in a segregated classroom. In 1960 a federal court ordered Louisiana schools to desegregate. The school district created an entrance exam to see if African American students could attend an all-white school. Ruby and five other students passed the exam. The six students were to be sent to two different all-white schools. The school district delayed their start, and Ruby’s first day of school was November 14, 1960. A few days before, the two African American students who were going to attend with Ruby decided to stay in their home school. Ruby braved Frantz Elementary School on her own.
How Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day Began
In May 2018, a group of fifth-graders from Martin Elementary School in South San Francisco, California, learned about Ruby and asked their school board to pass a resolution making November 14 Ruby Bridges Day. The San Mateo County Office of Education Safe Routes to School team met with students about making it a walk to school day and invited them to present this proposal to the San Mateo County Board of Education.
A resolution was passed endorsing November 14 as Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day in San Mateo County. When November 14 falls on a Saturday or Sunday, the event is celebrated on the following Wednesday. The Safe Routes to School team invited other schools to join the Martin Elementary School students in honoring Ruby’s courage by celebrating this walk to school day. Fourteen schools participated in 2018 and 25 participated in 2019.
San Mateo County put together a website full of resources including lesson plans, social media templates, and more. Here are a few suggested ones to start with:
- San Mateo County's resources website to share with your students
- Listen to Ruby talk about her courageous journey and events leading up to it on this podcast: Through My Eyes: Ruby Bridges on the Struggle for Racial Justice
Share Ruby’s Story
If you’d like to share Ruby’s story with your students, you can order her 1999 memoir, Through My Eyes, here. Click here to access The Power of Story, a catalog of diverse books for readers of all ages.
The Creative Company has given permission for SRTS practitioners to share their book Ruby Head High: Ruby Bridges’ First Day of School at no cost. You can print these pages for a storyboard walking activity, to share with students and schools, and more! The Creative Company does ask that you please tag them in any photos related to their use: @thecreativecompanypublishing on Facebook and @the_creative_company_books on Instagram.
Learn more about Portland's Story
This is also an opportunity to learn and share about Portland's history of desegregation with your students and children. We encourage you to research about Portland's history with segregated neighborhoods, desegregation with school districts, and busing. Here are some recommended resources:
- Our Story: Portland Through an African American Lens (7-minute video on desegregation in Portland)
- Racing to Change: Oregon’s Civil Rights Years (Virtual exhibit presented by Oregon Black Pioneers)
- Timeline of Oregon and U.S. Racial, Immigration and Education History (year 1900 starts on page 10)
- The Desegregation of Portland Public Schools (lesson plan for 8th-10th grade students)