Fairfax Co. students walk to school in honor of Ruby Bridges

U.S. Deputy Marshals escort six-year-old Ruby Bridges from William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, La., in Nov. 1960. The first grader is the only Black child enrolled in the school, where parents of white students are boycotting the court-ordered integration law and are taking their children out of school. (AP Photo)

Students in Fairfax County, Virginia, are walking to or from school Wednesday to honor a historic act of courage.

In 1960, there was little support for integrating schools in New Orleans, Louisiana. But, six-year-old Ruby Bridges’ parents sent her anyway, and she became the first Black student to integrate an elementary school in the South.

Now, 61 years after U.S. Marshals walked with Bridges to school, students and families in Fairfax County are honoring her courage by walking to or from school as part of Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day.

Sally Smallwood, a Fairfax County Safe Routes to School project organizer, said kids will learn Ruby Bridges’ story in school — “For kids to understand who she was,” Smallwood said.

Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day is recognized in many school systems around the country. Smallwood said Fairfax County is excited to help mark the important event in its efforts to improve equity and diversity in the school district.

“She’s still living and supports this, and we’re thankful for the students out in California that came up with the idea,” Smallwood said.

The walk is part of a county program called Walking Wednesday, which started last year to encourage children to get out and walk around their neighborhood before sitting down for a full day of virtual classes.

This school year, Walking Wednesdays have a different theme each month.

Kyle Cooper

Anchor and reporter Kyle Cooper, has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana, and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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