Civil Rights Icon Ruby Bridges to Celebrate Black History Month with WSU Community
OGDEN, Utah — Civil Rights activist Ruby Bridges Hall, the first African-American child to attend the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans during the school desegregation crisis in 1960, will speak to a Weber State University audience, Feb 18 at 6 p.m. via Zoom conferencing. The campus community is invited to attend this free event by registering at this link. Questions can be submitted at this link.
When Bridges was 6 years old, her parents responded to a NAACP request and volunteered her to participate in the integration of the local school system. Six students originally agreed to integrate the nearby elementary school, but Bridges was the only one who stayed.
Because of angry protesters and threats, the first grader was escorted to and from school by federal marshals every day for a year, a scene immortalized by artist Norman Rockwell in his work “The Problem We All Live With.” Bridges was the one and only student in her class, but formed a special bond with her teacher, Barbara Henry, and continued to attend all year.
Bridges eventually graduated from an integrated high school, married and now has children and grandchildren. In 1999, she established the Ruby Bridges Foundation to promote tolerance and create change through education.
Adrienne Andrews, WSU’s assistant vice president for diversity, will host the event and Nicola Corbin, communication associate professor, will interview Bridges.
“Ruby Bridges reminds us that the history of educational segregation is as topical today as it was when she integrated the Louisiana schools in 1960,” Andrews said. “As living history, she exemplifies one person's ability to transform the nation through consistent action. In a time when it feels individual actors have no power, Ms. Ruby reminds us that individual power helps drive collective power to transformation. We still have many miles to go as we seek equity in this nation, but her story reminds us that each of us matter, that we can, in fact, change the world one person at a time.”
Bridges recently wrote a New York Times bestseller, “This is Your Time,” a 60-page letter to today’s youth in which she discusses the similarities between what she saw in the social protests of the 1960s and again in 2020.
She tells audiences she still believes the country has more good than evil but that it will take looking past differences to stand up together. She encourages youth to pick up the torch of social justice and community service activism.
“Recent events right here in our own community remind us that we all need the bravery that 6-year-old Ruby showed us 61 years ago and beyond,” Corbin said. “As we celebrate the contributions of Black people to the building of these United States this month, I hope participants realize that it requires all of us all year round, in all of our humanity, to make meaningful change that moves us forward. If a 6-year-old and her family can do it, we can too.”
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2/19/21 NOTICE: Due to contractual obligations, this event was not recorded and the use of any recording devices, including, but not limited to, cell phones, video cameras, or digital recorders was not permitted during Ms. Bridges Virtual Speaking Engagement.