Listen to an audio recording of an oral history interview with Ruby Walden, a community and civil rights activist. Transcript below.
Ruby H. Walden, formerly Ruby Lucille Holland, was born and raised in Nansemond County, now Suffolk, Virginia. She was a homemaker and mother of four, the secretary and bookkeeper for her husband’s brick masonry business, and an active community and civil rights advocate. At the time of this interview, Mrs. Walden lived in Suffolk, Virginia.
Mrs. Walden discusses her family and her childhood in rural Nansemond County, with a particular focus on her education in a two-room primary school and the Nansemond County Training School, where she graduated in 1938. She also describes the education of her children, who faced educational experiences similar to her own. Mrs. Walden was part of the Parent-Teacher Association, who, with the support of the NAACP, filed a lawsuit for the equalization of their schools.
Mrs. Walden was active in various committees. She worked with the Suffolk-Nansemond branch of the NAACP and helped create a community center and ballpark (Nansemond Community Ballpark). She helped organize the Holland-Holy-Neck Civic League, which worked to increase voter participation, helped to establish a Legal Aid Society in Suffolk, and worked with a Literacy Council. She tells about an opportunity she had to speak personally with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Suffolk, as well as her experience as a delegate at the Democratic Convention in 1984.