National Civil Rights Museum Hosts its 7th Ruby Bridges Reading Festival

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Memphis, TN, April 29, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Civil Rights Museum is hosting the Ruby Bridges Reading Festival on Saturday, May 4, in partnership with civil rights and literacy advocate Ruby Bridges for the seventh year. The free festival celebrates Bridges’ legacy of bringing together families across racial, economic, and educational backgrounds through reading. This year’s festival is significant in that it aligns with the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board decision.

Six years after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision ruling segregated schools unconstitutional, six-year-old Bridges was the first Black student to integrate an all-white elementary school alone in New Orleans on November 14, 1960. Her walk to the school's front door was immortalized in Norman Rockwell’s painting, “The Problem We All Live With,” of which Bridges donated a print that hangs in the Museum’s Brown v. Board of Education exhibit gallery.

Bridges has written the New York Times bestseller This Is Your Time, which follows the publication of her award-winning autobiography, Through My Eyes. She established the Ruby Bridges Foundation to provide leadership training programs that inspire youth and community leaders to embrace and value the richness of diversity. During the festival, she will read from her new release Dear Ruby: Hear Our Hearts, which includes a letter from Memphis elementary student Benjamin Williams.

“Reaching children through books and storytelling provides an outlet for creativity and expression. The letters young people share with me are encouraging and demonstrate they want, and are preparing for, a better world in which they can grow and thrive – hopefully without biased opinions of one another,” Bridges said. “The museum partnership provides a platform for children to learn and be heard,” she said.

After receiving the Museum’s 2015 Freedom Award, Bridges wanted to help promote literacy in Memphis by implementing the festival. Bridges 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.

“As we observe the 70th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, it’s important to recognize the bravery and tenacity of the littlest foot soldiers of that era who carried forth the hope of education equity for all,” said Museum President, Dr. Russ Wigginton. “Our partnerships during the Ruby Bridges Reading Festival is just one way we continue the legacy of those who stood valiantly to desegregate schools and forge better opportunities for the next generation.”

Thousands of children’s books are given away during the festival. Families and children pre-K through elementary can also enjoy fun activities including music, balloon art, magic shows, craft activities, and storytelling by children’s book authors. 

Guest readers and authors include:

  • Civil rights icon Ruby Bridges, author of new release, Dear Ruby: Hear Our Hearts, along with Through My Eyes, Ruby Bridges Goes to School: My True StoryThis Is Your Time, and her 2022 release, I Am Ruby Bridges
  • Civil rights icon Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, author of She Stood for Freedom.
  • Nancy Churnin - author of Martin and Anne, plus the upcoming release The William Hoy Story
  • Nikkolas Smith – illustrator and author of the new book The Artivist.

The event is presented by Sylvamo with support from International Paper, Ben & Jerry’s, and Urban Child Institute. Community partners include Memphis Public Library and Information Center and Waterford.org.

Due to campus renovations, the outdoor event is held in the museum’s guest parking lot, weather permitting. The festival will occur inside the museum’s Hooks Hyde Hall in the event of rain. For more information, visit civilrightsmuseum.org.

About the National Civil Rights Museum
The NATIONAL CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM, located at the historic Lorraine Motel where civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, gives a comprehensive overview of the American Civil Rights Movement from 1619 to the present. Since the Museum opened in 1991, millions of visitors from around the world have come, including more than 90,000 students annually. Serving as the new public square, the Museum is steadfast in its mission to chronicle the American civil rights movement, examine today’s global civil and human rights issues, provoke thoughtful debate, and serve as a catalyst for positive social change. 

A Smithsonian Affiliate and an internationally acclaimed cultural institution, the Museum was recognized as TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Top 5% U.S. Museum, USA Today's Top 10 Best American Iconic Attractions; Top 10 Best Historical Spots in the U.S. by TLC's Family Travel; Must See by the Age of 15 by Budget Travel and Kids; Top 10, American Treasures by USA Today; and Best Memphis Attraction by The Commercial Appeal and the Memphis Business Journal.

- civilrightsmuseum.org -


Connie Dyson
National Civil Rights Museum
901-527-1225
cdyson@civilrightsmuseum.org
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