Civil Rights Icon Ruby Bridges to Receive Steinbeck Award

SJSU Media Relations Contact:
Pat Harris, pat.harris@sjsu.edu, 408-924-1748

Ruby Bridges

Ruby Bridges today (photo courtesy of Ms. Bridges).

SAN JOSE, CA – Civil rights icon Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in Louisiana, will be on campus Feb. 24 to receive the John Steinbeck Award.

“An Evening with Ruby Bridges” is slated for 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.) in the Student Union Ballroom. The award presentation will culminate an evening featuring an onstage interview of Bridges by KQED’s Joshua Johnson. This event is sold out.

Ruby Bridges has been called the youngest foot soldier of the civil rights movement. In 1960, the NAACP selected a six-year-old girl to break the color barrier of an all-white elementary school in New Orleans. White parents removed their children from classes, and angry protesters jeered at Ruby as she walked the steps of William Frantz Elementary School surrounded by federal marshals. For months, Ruby sat alone in her classroom, instructed one-on-one by Barbara Henry, a white teacher from Boston. John Steinbeck was moved by Bridges’ courage and wrote about her in his 1962 book “Travels with Charley.”

More information is available on the Martha Heasley Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies’ website.