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Press Release

U.S. Attorney Totten Presents Tribute From Attorney General Garland To Civil Rights Icon, Ms. Ruby Bridges

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten today presented Ms. Ruby Bridges with a letter of tribute from U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, recognizing her courageous contribution to the advancement of civil rights. The presentation took place at the 39th Annual Day of Celebration at the Lansing Center in Lansing, Michigan, hosted by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission of Mid-Michigan.

          “The brave steps 6-year-old Ruby Bridges took on November 14, 1960, and for months thereafter blazed a path of opportunity for countless children who followed,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “The role the U.S. Department of Justice played in protecting Ruby Bridges, escorted by multiple Deputy U.S. Marshals, was one of our proudest moments. I was thrilled to meet Ms. Bridges and I’m grateful for her incredible legacy.”

          WATCH: Today’s presentation can be viewed on YouTube or the U.S. Attorney’s Facebook Page.


Photo of Ruby Bridges

[Uncredited DOJ photographer.  William Frantz Elementary School, 1960.]

          On November 14, 1960, 6-year-old Ruby Bridges entered William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana under a court order requiring the school system to admit children of color. Although the U.S. Supreme Court had struck down school segregation in its 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, many schools across the United States remained segregated. When Ruby first entered the school, and for months thereafter, she was met by screaming crowds and racial slurs. That first day and for the rest of the school year, Ruby was accompanied by several Deputy U.S. Marshals from the U.S. Marshal’s Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Justice. Only one teacher was willing to accept Ruby, her father lost his job, grocery stores refused to sell food to her family, and her grandparents were evicted from their farm. More information about Ruby Bridges is available on this National Park Service webpage.

          An image of the letter of tribute from Attorney General Merrick Garland, presented by U.S. Attorney Mark Totten, is available below.

An image of the letter of tribute from Attorney General Merrick Garland, presented by U.S. Attorney Mark Totten


Updated January 15, 2024

Civil Rights