National Civil Rights Museum, Ruby Bridges partner for annual reading festival

Published: May. 13, 2023 at 2:32 PM CDT|Updated: May. 13, 2023 at 7:19 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The National Civil Rights Museum in partnership with Ruby Bridges hosted its annual reading festival on Saturday.

Action News 5 spoke with Bridges who stressed the importance of knowing our nation’s history.

“We are on the heels of a time when books are being banned including my own,” said Bridges.

That’s why the civil rights activist and author says she’ll continue fighting for kids to have access to books.

Her reading festival, in partnership with the National Civil Rights Museum, was a dream turned reality several years ago.

“I really wanted to be able to not just give books away to kids, but also to inspire them to write,” said Bridges.

Bridges’ love for books started at a young age. She received books in the mail after making history as the first Black child to attend an all-white school in New Orleans, back in 1960.

She continues to inspire the next generation, like young author Bellen Woodard.

“Knowing how to put your experiences and things―everything they’ve experienced―just write them down. Just write your thoughts down, even if it’s not published. I think it can be helpful and it can also inspire other people,” said Woodard.

At a time when thousands of books are being banned by states across the country, Bridges says, teaching history as it happened is the only way to move past racial differences.

“It’s so very vital and important to never forget our history because you’ll repeat it if you don’t know it,” said Bryan Collier, an illustrator for children’s books

In addition to the book giveaway, the festival offered kids and families the chance to connect with authors through storytelling among other children’s activities.

Bridges said it’s critical people come together to ensure books are available to kids, even if they’re banned at school.

“If you are banning my books because they are too truthful, then why don’t we start having conversations about the books that we force, our young people to study? Textbooks that we know omit so much of the truth,” said Bridges.

Bridges hope her reading festival continues to grow and would like to see more authors and illustrators join in the years to come.

“What can we do about the books being banned? Vote,” said Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, a civil rights activist.

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