From the Superintendent: Ruby Bridges Personifies So Much of What Still Needs to Be Done

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Dear Colleagues:

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I came face to face with history this week. You could hear a pin drop when Ms. Ruby Bridges addressed school racial equity leaders from across the country at the National Summit for Courageous Conversations.

Some of you may not know who Ruby Bridges is, but you might recognize this photo of her:

Ms. Bridges was the first black child to attend an all-white elementary school in the South in 1960. A Boston woman signed on as her teacher when her local first grade teacher refused. Ruby couldn’t go to lunch for fear for her life. She couldn’t go to recess.

Years later she recounts the loneliness of that experience, but reassures herself that while she may have been alone, “the eagle, too, flies alone.”

She was and is a true inspiration.

I felt especially grateful to hear from Ms. Bridges now because this year is the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that established the unconstitutionality of separate public schools for black and white children.

So what have we accomplished in 60 years? Not enough, I’m afraid. While our schools are no longer physically segregated, in far too many ways our systems perpetuate the racism that resulted in the Topeka, Kan., lawsuit back in 1954.

We’re taking action to change that here in Saint Paul Public Schools, and I have to tell you, our hard work is being recognized nationally. That may be hard to reconcile with the messiness of our day-to-day efforts to improve learning for all children, but it is true.

So as we continue to fight to ensure that every child learns in Saint Paul Public Schools, remember that Ruby Bridges told us that it is up to us to change this world, to make it better and safer for our kids.

It’s about our hearts.

It’s about what’s right.

It’s about our children.

Your Very Proud Superintendent,

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Valeria Silva