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My Inspirations: Ruby Bridges and Amazing Grace

November 12, 2012

New Orleans Corps Members, dressed as their favorite childhood book characters, with Mayor and First Lady Landrieu

By Fidgi Simeon, Corps Member Proudly Serving on the Entergy team at Samuel J. Green Charter School

The City Year family again volunteered at another successful event! In honor of National Make a Difference Day (October 20th), the corps volunteered at the Scholastic Book Fair at the Latter Branch Library on St. Charles Avenue on a beautiful bright sunny day. We worked hard to produce a puppet show, bring Clifford the Big Red Dog to town (thanks to Henry Marrion), organize fun literacy games, and help Scholastic donate thousands of books to over 500 children.

The Scholastic Book Fair was one of my favorite City Year service projects to date.  We brought energy, fun and our own youth as we dressed up as our favorite characters from a childhood book. I decided to dress up as the character Grace from the story Amazing Grace.  In the book, Grace is a five year old African American girl with a penchant for reading, drama and storytelling.  She decides to audition for Peter Pan for her school play, but is discouraged from trying due to being black and female.  However, with the help of her grandmother and mother, Grace finally found it within herself to be anything she wanted.  From the moment I first read this book, it has resonated within me.  It was a joy to share my connection with the story to the curious children at the book fair who asked me who I was dressed as.

Another inspiration that I read about while growing up was Ruby Bridges. This real life childhood hero partnered with the First Lady of New Orleans, Cheryl Landrieu, to host the book fair. As a child, I learned about how Ruby Bridges was the first black child to attend a segregated school in the south. When crowds of people were against her, she fought for her right to education and has dedicated her life towards promoting literacy.  Imagine my joy when I was able to meet Ruby in person at the fair! 

Both Grace and Ruby have made a huge impact in my life. Their love for literacy, imagination, and perseverance has stayed with me to this day. The spirit of Grace and the resilience of Ruby Bridges have left a legacy to black girls who have been told no, who have been denied, or who have felt unwelcomed by society.  Service at National Make a Difference Day reminded me of this, and guided me back to why I serve with City Year.


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