Marblehead students ‘Walk for Ruby’ and against racism

Students at the Brown School participate in Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day

Students across Marblehead joined the national Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day on November 14 and learned about the little girl who made history in America’s civil rights movement by integrating her elementary school.

“I think there were lots of students who understood it and found it meaningful,” said Principal Amanda Murphy at the Village School, where about 500 students and teachers participated.

On Nov. 14, 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges became the first Black student to attend her elementary school in New Orleans, after a federal court ordered Louisiana to desegregate its schools. Guarded by federal marshals, she walked past crowds of students and families shouting racial slurs.

Today, Bridges is a civil rights leader who speaks out against racism.

Caja Johnson, director of Marblehead’s METCO program, encouraged local schools to observe Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day. (METCO brings students from Boston neighborhoods to 33 suburban school districts including Marblehead.) Students in every Marblehead school answered the call and participated.

Students at the Village School walk to honor Ruby Bridges and the fight against racism

At the Village, Brown and Glover Schools, teachers shared Bridges’ new book, “I am Ruby Bridges,” with students and then read a letter from Bridges to children around the country.

“Together, one step at a time we can commit to a better tomorrow and to stomp out racism and bullying,” Bridges wrote.

Because some students take a bus to school – whether from Boston or neighborhoods in Marblehead — Murphy decided to have Village students meet at the school’s track and walk together.

“We want to be inclusive,” she said. “Almost every student and teacher joined in.”

At the Brown School, students and staff gathered outside and “reflected on how fortunate and grateful we all are to be able to walk to school safely every day,” said Principal Mary Maxfield. “We acknowledged that for Ruby Bridges, it was much more difficult, but she was brave and kind and made a difference, just like Brown School students. We also acknowledged how important it is for all of us to remember her bravery. Then all 500+ of us walked down Baldwin Road.”

Glover students also participated in a walk outside their school.

Murphy said she hopes Marblehead schools will join the event again next year.

“Our plan is to get Ruby Bridges herself to come and speak, virtually or on Zoom,” she said.

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Leigh Blander is an experienced TV, radio and print journalist who has written hundreds of stories for local newspapers, including the Marblehead Reporter. She also works as a PR specialist.

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