Ruby Bridges: A Pioneering Civil Rights Activist Who Continues to Inspire Today (2024)

Ruby Bridges is an extraordinary figure in American history, renowned for her unwavering commitment and bravery as she became the first African American child to integrate an all-white elementary school in the South. Her remarkable actions during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s have left an indelible mark on society, and her legacy continues to inspire people across the globe.

Born on September 8, 1954, in Tylertown, Mississippi, Ruby Bridges became a pivotal figure in the desegregation of public schools at a tender age. In 1960, she was chosen to attend the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana, thrusting her into the center of a heated struggle for racial equality.

Ruby’s journey to school was fraught with adversity, as she braved a gauntlet of angry protesters who spewed hateful insults and threats. Her steadfastness and determination in the face of such hostility marked a significant milestone in the fight against racial segregation in education.

Breaking Barriers: Ruby Bridges’ historic enrollment in an all-white school shattered barriers of racial segregation and set a precedent for future generations. Her courageous act challenged deeply entrenched societal norms and sparked nationwide conversations about racial equality in education.

Inspiration for Change: By fearlessly confronting hate and adversity at such a young age, Ruby Bridges became an inspiration for countless individuals to take a stand against injustice. Her unwavering courage demonstrated that even a single individual, regardless of age or background, can make a profound impact in the pursuit of equality.

Symbol of Resilience: Ruby emerged as a symbol of hope and resilience during the Civil Rights Movement. Her remarkable journey shed light on the necessity for change and served as a beacon of hope for those fighting for racial equality.

Advocacy for Education: Throughout her life, Ruby Bridges has been a vocal advocate for quality education for all children. In 1999, she founded the Ruby Bridges Foundation, which promotes student tolerance, respect, and unity. The foundation’s mission is to provide educational resources, foster dialogue, and celebrate diversity in schools.

Through her foundation, Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day is held on November 14th each year to serve as a reminder of the bravery and sacrifices made by Ruby Bridges and others who fought for equality. The event aims to inspire students, educators, and communities to stand up against discrimination, promote inclusivity, and advocate for equal access to education for all.

The initiative started when an elementary school AAA School Safety Patrol student from Martin Elementary School in South San Francisco asked; “Why isn’t there a day named after Ruby Bridges?” (RBF, 2023) A yearly walk-to-school day has been planned by student leaders every November since 2018. The partnership between AAA and the Ruby Bridges Foundation since 2021 has supported expansion of events throughout the country. Last year, nearly 343,000 students from 1,400 schools participated in the Walk for Ruby.

Ruby Bridges’ impact extends far beyond her groundbreaking entry into William Frantz Elementary School. Her story resonates deeply in today’s society, serving as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for equality and justice. In a world still grappling with racial and social disparities, Ruby Bridges’ actions demand our attention. Her courageous journey and unwavering commitment to equality, in the face of intense adversity, continues to inspire individuals to challenge discrimination, advocate for equal rights, and work towards a more inclusive society.

Reach out to your TMA Regional Safe Routes to School Coordinator to plan a Ruby Bridges walk to School Day. If you aren’t sure which TMA serves your community, find your Regional Safe Routes to School Coordinator here:


  1. “Ruby Bridges.” National Women’s History Museum,
  2. “Ruby Bridges Biography.” The website, A&E Television Networks,
  3. “The Ruby Bridges Foundation.” Ruby Bridges Foundation,
Ruby Bridges: A Pioneering Civil Rights Activist Who Continues to Inspire Today (2024)


What did Ruby Bridges do as a civil rights activist? ›

She was the first African American child to desegregate William Frantz Elementary School. At six years old, Ruby's bravery helped pave the way for Civil Rights action in the American South. Ruby was born on September 8, 1954 to Abon and Lucille Bridges in Tylertown, Mississippi.

How do Ruby Bridges inspire you? ›

Ruby Bridges is an inspiring reminder that our entire nation owes a huge debt of gratitude not just to the adults who took a stand during the Civil Rights Movement but to the thousands of extraordinary children and youths who were frontline soldiers in the war to overthrow Jim Crow in American life from the Birmingham ...

What do Ruby Bridges do today? ›

She is now chair of the Ruby Bridges Foundation, which she formed in 1999 to promote "the values of tolerance, respect, and appreciation of all differences". Describing the mission of the group, she says, "racism is a grown-up disease and we must stop using our children to spread it."

What was the life lesson learned from Ruby Bridges? ›

Learning that you can never judge anyone from the outside was the first lesson of that tumultuous year. A second was that we must all “become brothers and sisters:” “We must absolutely take care of one another. It does take a village, but we have to be a village first.

How did Ruby Dee impact the civil rights movement? ›

“Davis and Rudy Dee's commitment to the black community went beyond staging dramas; in 1963 they acted as official hosts for the legendary civil rights March on Washington” (Bogle).

How did Ruby Bridges achieve her greatest goal? ›

She did so through perseverance. Bridges came to school each day, did her best to ignore the hostility toward her, and blazed a path for others to come after her. This was a tremendous achievement considering she was only six years old.

What happened to Ruby Bridges when she was 4? ›

When she was four years old, her family moved to New Orleans. Two years later a test was given to the city's African American schoolchildren to determine which students could enter all-white schools. Bridges passed the test and was selected for enrollment at the city's William Frantz Elementary School.

What words describe Ruby Bridges? ›

I heard that Ruby was kind, smart, proud, quiet, but most of all brave. Thank you, Mrs. Greene, for the invitation and such a great idea. Ruby loves her new classroom.

What is Ruby Bridges' famous quote? ›

Ruby Bridges Quotes

One famous quote by Ruby Bridges was from a speech given at the dedication of her new Ruby Bridges Foundation ceremony. She said, "Racism is a grownup disease. Let's stop using kids to spread it."

Who is Ruby Bridges for kids? ›

(born 1954). As a child, Ruby Bridges was one of the first Black students to attend formerly all-white schools in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was the only Black child to enroll at the city's William Frantz Elementary School in 1960, when she was six years old.

What is Ruby Bridges' favorite color? ›

The museum provides virtual museum tours and programs. Learn more about Ruby Bridges and her work by visiting the Ruby Bridges Foundation. Wear purple! It's Ruby's favorite color.

How did Ruby Bridges change the world? ›

Ruby Bridges is an extraordinary figure in American history, renowned for her unwavering commitment and bravery as she became the first African American child to integrate an all-white elementary school in the South.

Who was Ruby Bridges inspired by? ›

Answer and Explanation: Malcolm Bridges's, Ruby's younger brother's, death inspired her to establish the Ruby Bridges Foundation. She is currently a promoter of education and helps educate destitute, orphaned, and needy children.

How were Ruby Bridges treated? ›

Ruby faced blatant racism every day while entering the school. Many parents kept their children at home. People outside the school threw objects, police set up barricades. She was threatened and even “greeted" by a woman displaying a black doll in a wooden coffin.

What are three accomplishments of Ruby Bridges? ›

Robert Coles publishes " The Story of Ruby Bridges". She receives an honorary college degree from Connecticut College. 1996 - Ruby writes a book called "Through My Eyes" . 2001 - Ruby receives the Presidential Citizens Medal.

Why does Mr. Bridges get upset with the NAACP man? ›

Bridges gets upset with the NAACP man for several reasons. First, he is not sending his kids to the school like Ruby. He also does not face any of the same consequences as the Bridges, such as Mr. Bridges losing his job because he sends Ruby to her new school.

Why did Ruby Bridges get an award? ›

Forty years after breaking the segregation barrier in New Orleans, Ruby Bridges was badged as an honorary deputy marshall for her inspiration and courage for our nation. On October of 2003 she received the Legacy of Caring Award as well as the United States Presidential Citizens Medal in January 2001.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Last Updated:

Views: 6042

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Wyatt Volkman LLD

Birthday: 1992-02-16

Address: Suite 851 78549 Lubowitz Well, Wardside, TX 98080-8615

Phone: +67618977178100

Job: Manufacturing Director

Hobby: Running, Mountaineering, Inline skating, Writing, Baton twirling, Computer programming, Stone skipping

Introduction: My name is Wyatt Volkman LLD, I am a handsome, rich, comfortable, lively, zealous, graceful, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.