SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - Dozens of Martin Elementary School students and families walked to school together on Wednesday in honor of young civil rights activist Ruby Bridges.
In 1960, Ruby was the first Black student to integrate a school in the South.
Even though courts has already ended segregation, many families didn't send their Black children to white schools because of the threats made against them. But at just six years old, Bridges walked past the angry mobs yelling racist, hateful things at her, to get to school.
Deborah Carlino's 5th grade class at Martin Elementary was inspired by Rubys' story.
"We were reading about Ruby Bridges and Maddy in our class asked, ‘Does Ruby have a day?’ And we looked it up and she did not have a day. And the children were so upset about this, they said ‘We’re going to go to the President!' And I said, ‘Hold up, there’s a process,’" said Carlino.
That process has taken four years.
Each year, Carlino's class kept pushing. The students collected more than 1,000 signatures, convincing the school board and eventually the city that there needed to be a Ruby Bridges Day.
Then on Sept. 10 of 2021, the California State Senate unanimously passed a resolution to make November 14 Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day statewide.
"Ruby’s story to me is one of courage and bravery. And the fact that one act, one person, can truly make a difference. And that’s evidenced by today, right? Sixty years later, across the country, these students were inspired by her story and now they’ve inspired all of us," said Senator Josh Becker, who introduced the resolution.
Although the students who originally started this push are now in high school, Carlino's current 5th grade class wants to continue the charge to make Ruby Bridges Day a national holiday.
"We want kids all over this country to start asking their teachers, asking their principals if they can walk with Ruby as well. Because they want all kids to know that they have power to affect positive changes in this world," said Carlino.
"This has carried on to a great generation, like it was a 10-year-old that thought of this day, and now we’re doing it," said 5th grader Abigail Miranda.