Day of Remembrance: Ruby Bridges honored in Orange with ceremonial walk to school
Tuesday marks 63 years since Ruby Bridges took the first steps toward integrated American education. This has become a day of remembrance honored at schools around the country, including in the Garden State.
Students at Central Elementary School in Orange celebrated Bridges on Tuesday morning with a ceremonial walk to school – a tradition that began in 2018 to help educate kids about the civil rights activist and her bravery.
Dr. Gerald Fitzhugh II, superintendent of Orange Public Schools, says Bridges story sets a profound example for young students.
"All children are a part of a great legacy. They deserve to have a great education no matter who they are, what they look like and where they come from because they believe innately that they are excellent," he said.
Bridges was only 6 years old when she made strides for the civil rights movement. On Nov. 14, 1960, she became the first African American student to attend an all-white school in New Orleans, officially integrating U.S. schools. Ruby and her family received intense backlash for her attendance, and she was taught alone by one teacher all year.
"It's important for the students to learn about it because each child, each student has an equal opportunity to get an education to learn about African American, Black history," said school security guard Denise White-Parrish. "With us bringing it back into the community, it gives the students the opportunity to understand why she did what she did."
Five years ago, an AAA officer in California led the first commemorative walk to honor Bridges. The students at Central Elementary School join more than 1,000 schools and 500,000 students across the country who celebrate Bridges' brave steps that paved the way for future generations.
Orange Township Mayor Dwayne Warren says it's moments like this that bring hope that today's kids will be tomorrow's leaders.
"The future mayor was in that crowd. The future superintendent was in that crowd. They did it with dignity and pride and a knowledge of our history," Warren said.