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Community Advocacy Organization

Civil rights icon, and first African American child to integrate white Southern school will be a special guest at the 2024 MLK Day of Celebration Event

Updated: Jan 11

Ruby Bridges defied angry protesters to desegregate Louisiana school, became legendary changemaker, civil rights activist

 

Courtesy Photo-Ruby Bridges

 

LANSING, Mich. – Ruby Bridges will headline the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan’s 39th annual Day of Celebration signature event Monday, Jan. 15, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Lansing Center, 333 Michigan Ave., Lansing, Michigan.

 

Bridges, a prominent civil rights advocate, author, and speaker, gained widespread recognition for her remarkable feat as a fearless six-year-old. She made history in 1960 by becoming the first African American child to integrate an all-white school in the South, playing a pivotal role in the subsequent desegregation of public education.

 

“Ruby Bridges' story will inspire and educate the audience about the importance of courage, resilience, and the pursuit of equality,” said Elaine Hardy, commission chair. “The Commission is elated to host Ms. Bridges, a living link to the past, to share a firsthand account of the challenges faced during the Civil Rights Movement. Her personal journey is a testament to the impact that individuals can have in challenging systemic injustice.”

 

Amid angry protesters and a vicious mob, Bridges was escorted by U.S. Marshals on Nov. 14, 1960, as she walked into the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana. The historical moment has since been captured in the Norman Rockwell painting, The Problem We All Live With, as well as captured in the 1998 Disney production, Ruby Bridges, and The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles.

 

The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan is the nation’s longest-running, continuously operating MLK commission, and its annual Day of Celebration is the nation’s largest MLK Day luncheon event.

 

The theme of the 2024 MLK Day of Celebration event is, "The measure of a country's greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis," which is attributed to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of compassion and embodying the spirit and lessons of Dr. Martin Luther King, particularly during challenging times.

 

Bridges will address Day of Celebration attendees in an informal fireside chat, creating a comfortable and engaging atmosphere. She will offer perspectives on civil rights and race-related issues, emphasizing the significance of history as both a cornerstone and a source of truth.

 

Tickets for the Day of Celebration can be purchased online at mlkmidmichigan.com/day-of-celebration.

 

“To truly make lasting positive change—to keep Dr. King's dream moving forward—we need to think and act big,” Bridges is quoted as saying on biography.com.

 

Bridges established the Ruby Bridges Foundation to provide leadership training programs that inspire youth and community leaders to embrace and value the richness of diversity. Bridges has also received numerous awards, including the NAACP Martin Luther King Award, the Presidential Citizens Medal, and honorary doctorate degrees from Connecticut College, College of New Rochelle, Columbia University Teachers College, and Tulane University.

 

She is the author of Through My Eyes; This Is Your Time; I Am Ruby Bridges; and Dear Ruby, Hear Our Hearts, which will be released in January 2024.

 

About the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan works to support equality, diversity and social justice. It focuses on the area’s pressing issues of literacy, youth violence, hunger, mentoring, education and community enrichment. The nonprofit organization hosts speakers and concerts, supports community service agencies, and promotes youth initiatives, such as essay and art contests, college scholarships and an annual Y-Achievers tour for high school students. For more information visit mlkmidmichigan.com or follow the commission on Facebook, @MLKCommOfMidMI.

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