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By Greg Tucker

Ruby Bridges’ walk to school became a symbol of the Civil Rights struggle 
In 1960, 6-year-old Ruby Bridges’ daily walk to class took her past an angry mob and into Civil Rights history when she became the first African American child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South.
Though she only lived five blocks from her new school, Ruby previously attended an all-black segregated school several miles away. After the Louisiana State Legislature exhausted all its options in a long battle against a federal court order to integrate the schools, Ruby was allowed to attend the classes near her home.
“I understood it was important but it didn’t hit me until I saw that Norman Rockwell painting. And I realize that it wasn’t something that just happened in New Orleans but it was something that people all across the country, all around the world actually, recognized, especially through the painting.” -Ruby Bridges
Each day, Ruby was escorted to the William Frantz School by federal marshals who ensured her safe arrival. Her first year at the school was tumultuous to say the least, and many white parents refused to allow their children to attend classes as long as Ruby was there. She also had to continue to navigate the mob every day, and endure threats to herself and her family.
But Ruby’s trials were eased by the kindness of Barbara Henry, the only white teacher who agreed to work with her at William Frantz.
An interview with a reporter when Bridges was 17 or 18 brought home the significance of her walk past a throng of angry protesters.
“I understood it was important but it didn’t hit me until I saw that Norman Rockwell painting. And I realize that it wasn’t something that just happened in New Orleans but it was something that people all across the country, all around the world actually, recognized, especially through the painting.
“And I always say that the lesson I took away was a lesson that Dr. King tried to teach all of us — and that was we should never look at a person and judge them by the color of their skin.”
In light of recent events, Ruby’s story is a reminder that it only takes a few people to come together and create the change that can help heal our nation’s deepest wounds.
Watch the video below and learn more as Ruby Bridges tells her story, discusses the kindness of Henry, and how her experience relates to Dr. Martin Luther King’s message of racial equality.

Learn more about the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service at MLKDay.gov
Pledge to serve — take the MLK Day Challenge

Keywords: MLK Day, Ruby Bridges, Education, United We Serve
Beverley is a volunteers with Prisoner Visitation & Support in rural West Virginia. Her experiences have allowed her to inspire others and be inspired. Through her visits, she hopes to serve as a role model for those inside and outside of the prison walls.
In 2007 we started the Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action Network as a student led extracurricular club devoted to helping the environment.
The University Muslim Medical Association (UMMA) Community Clinic is the first full-time community health center in the United States established by Muslims.
“We were called the ‘Mylar Boys.’ It was like a club.”
We had a great time in Lockwood on the last day of our Fire Ready Montana tour! It was a beautiful day and all the local fire and emergency officials were there, along with several community booths. Residents came out with their kids to meet Smokey Bear and enjoy the fire truck demonstrations. It truly was a community event!
On Monday, Secretary Vilsack was in Zanesville, Ohio for a Rural Tour town hall focusing on green jobs and a new energy economy. After the forum, the Secretary visited Maple Terrace, a public housing facility for low-income senior citizens. He led an interfaith service event highlighting President Obama’s United We Serve volunteerism initiative. Secretary Vilsack joined local Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders to distribute energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs) to Maple Terrace residents.
When Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated asked its members to support United We Serve’s Summer Service Initiative, the ladies of the Xi Zeta Omega Chapter located in Washington, DC, joined right in to provide “service to all mankind.”
The Sharing the Harvest Community Farm Project is a collaboration between the Dartmouth YCMA and the Greater New Bedford Hunger Commission of Southeastern Massachusetts, a program of the United Way.
Dr. Johari R.: "I consider helping people to find work as a ministry."
After visiting with the President, I realized that volunteering here gives me the opportunity to, in a small way, repay those individuals who were so helpful to me during my crisis. Volunteerism also helps satisfy a need to be involved in solving some of the problems that we face in our community. In my case, delivering meals to the homebound has provided me the opportunity to serve longer.
“We hope you will join us in our efforts to prevent the spread of malaria. It’s as simple as this: one bag saves one life,” says Leah.
As an AmeriCorps Associate at the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) in Binghamton, NY, Dan launched the Dumpster Kitchen and pushed his community to see "waste" in a new light.
Students at Von Steuben High School painted a 15-foot mural depicting their experiences at Foster Beach in Chicago. The mural is a daily reminder of more than six years of monthly stewardship and seasonal adventures. “I like knowing that the trash we help to remove from the beach makes things better,” says teacher CarolLynn Chmielewski, who has headed the Von Steuben High School Environmental Action Club in adopting and caring for Foster Beach.
UPS human resource employees had an opportunity to spend an afternoon working with Women on the Rise, an organization that supports parenting and early childhood education.
Senior citizens in Butte, Montana, shared their skills and talents with young campers learning to make crafts as part of the RSVP program.
Volunteers participated as victims in a simulated poisonous gas release. They went through triage on site then were transported to hospitals on both sides of the river. Afterwards several answered questions about their experience.
Sara shares the story of Andrea, a guidance counselor at Vero Beach Elementary School, who used her time off this summer to volunteer with the Social Entrée Meals program at the Senior Resource Association of Indian River County, Florida.
I spent my high school years at a Jesuit school in Portland, Oregon. Our school motto was “Age Quod Agis,” a Latin proverb that means, “Do well whatever you do.”
My name is Carolyn and I am a volunteer at the Piney Creek Watershed Association (PCWA). I am so grateful that I was introduced to PCWA because it is a wonderful group of people who have a passion for the community, access to clean water and protecting the environment.
Volunteering at the Chicago Christian Industrial League was the first time I have ever worked side-by-side with someone who was in need. As we worked together, she showed me more than how to size up men with proper amounts of chili. She also showed me the heart of CCIL.
Interfaith Partnership/Faith Beyond Walls works with congregations and faith communities to promote peace, understanding and respect among people of all faiths and within the greater Saint Louis metro area.
These are the moments that make our job worth it. At any other camp, these kids would've been sent home days ago, but that's not true with us. We'll find some way to make it work. Because every kid deserves a chance to go to summer camp.
I have gotten more out of seeing the residences' smiles, their excitement, their love than I really can explain in words.
What started as a dozen families dancing in the woods turned into a major charitable organization - the Western Fraternal Life Association. Recently they mobilized their community to save antiques and educate local youth in the process.
On August 27, 2009, I took part in United We Serve Safety and Security Week by touring our new Volunteer Reception Center, housed in the new Salvation Army Family Services Building.
These students found out what was important to members of their community and helped people dig deeper.
“With Ike’s devastation still so fresh on everyone’s mind, we are experiencing an increase in interest from people that desire to participate in training,” said Mark Sloan. “Current students in our class feel we are giving them more insight and greater ability to respond to disasters.”
A Francophonic team of expert planners has developed a free, ultra low-tech, easy-to-make solution for students with the "I forgot my homework again" blues. Read the story and check out the video.
Joel Berg at the New York City Coalition Against Hunger works with community volunteers in 3 New York City neighborhoods to organize Community Supported Agriculture Projects - programs that make farm fresh produce accessible and affordable for all income levels.
Cisco employees decided that they wanted to “make an impact” and not just “write a check” for the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens in downtown San Jose, an area maintained entirely by volunteers. Thirty-eight Cisco employees rolled up their sleeves to clean and provide maintenance for the Guadalupe River Park and Gardens.

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