Springfield students celebrate Ruby Bridges Day

SPRINGFIELD—Students across Lane County took part in the “Ruby Bridges Walk to School Day,” Monday, in honor of Bridges, the first Black student to attend an all-white public school when she was just six years old.

“Don’t follow the path,” she said. “Go where there is no path and begin the trail. When you start a new trail equipped with courage, strength and conviction, the only thing that can stop you is you!”

Students were escorted by volunteers from the Lane African American Black Student Success Program (AABSS). Across Lane County, family members and students followed designated “Safe Routes to School” on their Ruby Bridges walk

Several K-12 schools participated in the national walk across Lane County. 

A civil rights activist, Bridges attended an all-white elementary school in New Orleans on Nov. 14, 1960. The historic event produced one of the most iconic photographs taken during the civil rights movement, a six-year-old Bridges being escorted by three U.S. Marshals to and from school.

 Students in Springfield braved a chilly morning Monday in honor of National Ruby Bridges Day, honoring the experience of the civil rights activist.

The event was organized by the Lane African American Black Student Success Program (AABSS). Participants in Springfield gathered at the Bob Keefer Center where they were able to learn more about Ruby Bridges from AABSS members and volunteers. They also received free hand warmers and breakfast.

Spencer Coleman, with AABSS, works with BIPOC high school students in the Eugene and Springfield region. 

“It’s important to think about equality in so many ways,” Coleman said. “This is a reminder of why we desegregated schools and to teach the next generation the history of that. Walking brings back that humbleness, saying not everyone gets into a warm car to drive to school.” 

He says Bridges’ bravery is both significant and needed in classrooms today.

“When we do things like this, some kids know about it and others don’t,” Coleman said. “They get to go into the story. Bridges’ allows you to follow the trail to other civil rights leaders, other historical dates. It’s a fun introduction into something serious – this is a way to open the door for them to explore that.” 

Taylor Madden is the Equity and Inclusion Coordinator for Springfield Public Schools, the event came from months of coordination and collaboration with AABSS. “This is a great way to educate students about our history – and a big joint effort with AABSS,” Madden said. “It’s great to see students walking this year.” 

Millie Liesse is a 4th grader at Douglas Gardens Elementary. Liesse says that Ruby Bridges “made a big difference,” and that she walked to “remember her difference.” 

In 1960, Ruby Bridges walked through the doors of William Frantz Elementary School, in New Orleans, La. By doing so, she became the first African-American student to attend an all-white elementary school in the Southern United States.

To learn more about Ruby Bridges, please visit



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