On November 14, 1960, Ruby Bridges, a 6-year-old first grader, and her mother required the guard of U.S. marshals when white protesters hurled racial slurs as they walked to school. Ruby’s simple but courageous act of showing up for school each day played an important part in the civil rights movement. Today, Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day (RBWTSD) is a Call to Action to continue our journey to end racism and all forms of bullying in our schools. 

History of Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day

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 the 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. The Safe Routes to School team invited other schools to join the Martin students in honoring Ruby’s courage by celebrating this walk to school day. Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day has grown exponentially since the first walk was held in 2018.

This year on November 14, we celebrated Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day commemorating the day Ruby Bridges entered the previously all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans as the first Black Student. SMCOE’s Safe Routes to School team joined the celebration at the South San Francisco's City Hall where hundreds of parents, teachers, and students walked from City Hall to their respective schools. Superintendent Nancy Magee and Safe Routes to School Coordinator Theresa Vallez-Kelly received hugs from Ms. Bridges.

Now a National Initiative

In January 2021, with the help of Northern California AAA, the Ruby Bridges Foundation joined the movement and began to expand RBWTSD as a national initiative and in September 2021, the California State Senate passed a resolution recognizing November 14th as Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day in the state of California!

This initiative started with a question from a group of AAA School Safety Patrollers from Martin Elementary in South San Francisco back in 2018. When they heard Ruby’s story for the first time and learned about her courage and bravery, they thought there should be a day to commemorate the movement she started.

With the support of SMCOE’s Safe Routes to Schools, these students took their idea to the State Legislature. RBWTSD is now recognized by the state of California on November 14 each year. In addition, in 2021 over 50,000 students across the nation took part in RBWTSD and the number of participants continues to increase each year!

Posted November 17, 2022.