Artist James Melvin’s portrait of Ruby Bridges, Make a Positive Difference, is on display at the Aquarium through September 2023. Melvin is the Outer Banks artist who created the portraits of the Pea Island Lifesavers in the U.S. Coast Guard Lifesavers Gallery onsite.
Ruby Bridges was six years old when she was first escorted to school by federal marshals in 1960. She was the first Black child to attend the William Frantz Elementary School after racial segregation was ended. The family suffered for their bravery, but Ruby persevered. She graduated, became a travel agent, raised a family, and eventually began to share her story through speaking engagements, children’s books, and the Ruby Bridges Foundation.
Bridges visited the Outer Banks in 2021, and Dare Arts Board Member Miles Daniels shared a photo of her visit with Melvin. He was moved by the photos and created the oil painting that will be displayed at the College of the Albemarle campus in Manteo when not exhibited at other Outer Banks locations.
All the paintings mentioned above are available for viewing with admission to the Aquarium. Advanced ticket purchase is required, and reservations can be made at ncaquariums.com/roanoke-island.