The Problem We All Live With

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The Problem We All Live With
Artist Norman Rockwell
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions91 cm× 150 cm(36 in× 58 in)
Location Norman Rockwell Museum [1] , Stockbridge, Massachusetts

The Problem We All Live With is a 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell. It is considered an iconic image of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. [2] It depicts Ruby Bridges, a six-year-old African American girl, on her way to William Frantz Elementary School, an all-white public school, on November 14, 1960, during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis. Because of threats and violence against her, she is escorted by four deputy U.S. marshals; the painting is framed such that the marshals' heads are cropped at the shoulders. [3] [4] On the wall behind her is written the racial slur "nigger" and the letters "KKK"; a smashed and splattered tomato thrown against the wall is also visible. The white protesters are not visible, as the viewer is looking at the scene from their point of view. [3] The painting is oil on canvas and measures 36 inches (91 cm) high by 58 inches (150 cm) wide. [5]

Norman Rockwell American painter

Norman Percevel Rockwell was an American author, painter and illustrator. His works have a broad popular appeal in the United States for their reflection of American culture. Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine over nearly five decades. Among the best-known of Rockwell's works are the Willie Gillis series, Rosie the Riveter, The Problem We All Live With, Saying Grace, and the Four Freedoms series. He is also noted for his 64-year relationship with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), during which he produced covers for their publication Boys' Life, calendars, and other illustrations. These works include popular images that reflect the Scout Oath and Scout Law such as The Scoutmaster, A Scout is Reverent and A Guiding Hand, among many others.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe, which is 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Ruby Bridges American civil rights activist

Ruby Nell Bridges Hall is an American civil rights activist. She was the first African-American child to desegregate the all-white William Frantz Elementary School in Louisiana during the New Orleans school desegregation crisis in 1960. She is the subject of a 1964 painting, The Problem We All Live With, by Norman Rockwell.



The painting was originally published as a centerfold in the January 14, 1964 issue of Look . [5] Rockwell had ended his contract with the Saturday Evening Post the previous year due to frustration with the limits the magazine placed on his expression of political themes, and Look offered him a forum for his social interests, including civil rights and racial integration. [3] Rockwell explored similar themes in Southern Justice (Murder in Mississippi) and New Kids in the Neighborhood; [6] unlike his previous works for the Post, The Problem We All Live With and these others place black people as sole protagonists, instead of as observers, part of group scenes, or in servile roles. [7] [8] Like New Kids in the Neighborhood, The Problem We All Live With depicts a black child protagonist; [7] like Southern Justice, it uses strong light-dark contrasts to further its racial theme. [9]

<i>Look</i> (American magazine) magazine published in Des Moines, Iowa

Look was a bi-weekly, general-interest magazine published in Des Moines, Iowa, from 1937 to 1971, with more of an emphasis on photographs than articles. A large-size magazine of 11 in × 14 in, it was generally considered a competitor to Life magazine, which began publication months earlier and ended in 1972, a few months after Look ceased publication.

At Bridges' suggestion, President Barack Obama had the painting installed in the White House, in a hallway outside the Oval Office, from July to October 2011. Art historian William Kloss stated, "The N-word there – it sure stops you. There's a realistic reason for having the graffiti as a slur, [but] it's also right in the middle of the painting. It's a painting that could not be hung even for a brief time in the public spaces [of the White House]. I'm pretty sure of that." [1]

Barack Obama 44th president of the United States

Barack Hussein Obama II is an American attorney and politician who served as the 44th president of the United States from 2009 to 2017. A member of the Democratic Party, he was the first African American to be elected to the presidency. He previously served as a U.S. senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008 and an Illinois state senator from 1997 to 2004.

White House Official residence and workplace of the President of the United States

The White House is the official residence and workplace of the president of the United States. It is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. and has been the residence of every U.S. president since John Adams in 1800. The term "White House" is often used as a metonym for the president and his advisers.

Oval Office office of the U.S. President

The Oval Office is, since 1909, the working office space of the president of the United States, located in the West Wing of the White House, Washington, D.C.

The painting was used to "dress" O.J. Simpson's house during his 1995 murder trial by defense attorney Johnnie Cochran. Cochran hoped to evoke the sympathy of visiting jurors, who were mostly black, by including "something depicting African-American history." [10]

A set dresser in drama prepares the set with props and furniture to give it correct appearance and make sure each item is in correct position for each performance.

O. J. Simpson murder case Criminal trial decided October 3, 1995 in United States

The O. J. Simpson murder case was a criminal trial held in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Former National Football League (NFL) player, broadcaster, and actor O. J. Simpson was tried on two counts of murder for the June 12, 1994 slashing deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. At 12:10 a.m. on June 13, 1994, Brown and Goldman were found stabbed to death outside her condominium in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. Simpson was a person of interest in the murders. He did not turn himself in, and on June 17 he became the object of a low-speed pursuit in a white 1993 Ford Bronco SUV owned and driven by his friend Al Cowlings. TV stations interrupted coverage of the NBA finals to broadcast the incident. The pursuit was watched live by an estimated 95 million people. The pursuit, arrest, and trial were among the most widely publicized events in American history. The trial—often characterized as the trial of the century because of its international publicity—spanned eleven months, from the jury's swearing-in on November 9, 1994. Opening statements were made on January 24, 1995, and the verdict was announced on October 3, 1995, when Simpson was acquitted on two counts of murder. Following his acquittal, no additional arrests related to the murders have been made, and the crime remains unsolved to this day. According to USA Today, the case has been described as the "most publicized" criminal trial in history.

See also

<i>Trying to Trash Betsy DeVos</i>

Trying to Trash Betsy DeVos is a political cartoon by Glenn McCoy published on 13 February 2017. The cartoon centrally depicts Betsy DeVos, the United States Secretary of Education in the Trump Administration. The political cartoon is thematically based on The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwell, and attracted critical commentary in mainstream media.

The 1954 to 1968 civil rights movement contributed strong cultural themes to American and international theater, song, film, television, and the visual arts. These depictions keep alive the ideals and deeds of the people who organized, supported, and participated in this nonviolent movement.

Public schools in New Orleans, Louisiana, were desegregated to a significant degree for a period of almost seven years during the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War of the United States. Desegregation of this scale was not seen again in the Southern United States until after the 1954 federal court ruling Brown v. Board of Education established that segregated facilities were unconstitutional.

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<i>Brown v. Board of Education</i> United States Supreme Court case

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that American state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional, even if the segregated schools are otherwise equal in quality. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Court's unanimous (9–0) decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal," and therefore violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, the decision's 14 pages did not spell out any sort of method for ending racial segregation in schools, and the Court's second decision in Brown II only ordered states to desegregate "with all deliberate speed".

George Lincoln Rockwell American politician, founder of the American Nazi Party

George Lincoln Rockwell was an American politician and neo-Nazi. In 1959, he was discharged from the United States Navy because of his political views and founded the American Nazi Party.

Racial integration Process of ending racial segregation

Racial integration, or simply integration, includes desegregation. In addition to desegregation, integration includes goals such as leveling barriers to association, creating equal opportunity regardless of race, and the development of a culture that draws on diverse traditions, rather than merely bringing a racial minority into the majority culture. Desegregation is largely a legal matter, integration largely a social one.

<i>Russian Schoolroom</i> painting by Norman Rockwell

Russian Schoolroom (1967) — also known as The Russian Classroom and Russian Schoolchildren — is an oil on canvas painting created by American illustrator Norman Rockwell (1894–1978) and commissioned by Look magazine. It depicts Russian schoolchildren in a classroom with a bust of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin.

<i>Freedom from Fear</i> (painting) painting by Norman Rockwell

Freedom from Fear is the last of the well-known Four Freedoms oil paintings produced by the American artist Norman Rockwell. The series was based on the four goals known as the Four Freedoms, which were enunciated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his State of the Union Address on January 6, 1941. This work was published in the March 13, 1943, issue of The Saturday Evening Post alongside an essay by a prominent thinker of the day, Stephen Vincent Benét. The painting is generally described as depicting American children being tucked into bed by their parents while the Blitz rages across the Atlantic in Great Britain.

<i>Four Freedoms</i> (Norman Rockwell) A series of four 1943 oil paintings by the American artist Norman Rockwell

The Four Freedoms is a series of four 1943 oil paintings by the American artist Norman Rockwell. The paintings—Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear—are each approximately 45.75 inches (116.2 cm) × 35.5 inches (90 cm), and are now in the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The four freedoms refer to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's January 1941 Four Freedoms State of the Union address in which he identified essential human rights that should be universally protected. The theme was incorporated into the Atlantic Charter, and became part of the charter of the United Nations. The paintings were reproduced in The Saturday Evening Post for over four consecutive weeks in 1943, alongside essays by prominent thinkers of the day. They became the highlight of a touring exhibition sponsored by The Post and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The exhibition and accompanying sales drives of war bonds raised over $132 million.

<i>Freedom of Speech</i> (painting) painting by Norman Rockwell

Freedom of Speech is the first of the Four Freedoms paintings by Norman Rockwell that were inspired by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt's State of the Union Address, known as Four Freedoms, which he delivered on January 6, 1941.

<i>Freedom of Worship</i> (painting) Painting from the series of Four Freedoms by Norman Rockwell

Freedom of Worship or Freedom to Worship is the second of the Four Freedoms oil paintings produced by the American artist Norman Rockwell. The series was based on the goals known as the Four Freedoms enunciated by the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his State of the Union Address delivered on January 6, 1941. Rockwell considered this painting and Freedom of Speech the most successful of the series. Freedom of Worship was published on the 27th of February, 1943, issue of The Saturday Evening Post alongside an essay by philosopher Will Durant.

<i>Freedom from Want</i> (painting) Painting by Norman Rockwell

Freedom from Want, also known as The Thanksgiving Picture or I'll Be Home for Christmas, is the third of the Four Freedoms series of four oil paintings by American artist Norman Rockwell. The works were inspired by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt's 1941 State of the Union Address, known as Four Freedoms.

Black Power is a political slogan and a name for various associated ideologies aimed at achieving self-determination for people of African descent. It is used primarily, but not exclusively, by African Americans in the United States. The Black Power movement was prominent in the late 1960s and early 1970s, emphasizing racial pride and the creation of black political and cultural institutions to nurture and promote black collective interests and advance black values.

Report to the American People on Civil Rights

The Report to the American People on Civil Rights was a speech on civil rights, delivered on radio and television by United States President John F. Kennedy from the Oval Office on June 11, 1963 in which he proposed legislation that would later become the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Expressing civil rights as a moral issue, Kennedy moved past his previous appeals to legality and asserted that the pursuit of racial equality was a just cause. The address signified a shift in his administration's policy towards strong support of the civil rights movement and played a significant role in shaping his legacy as a proponent of civil rights.

Barbara Henry American teacher

Barbara Henry is a retired American teacher most notable for teaching Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to attend the all-white William Frantz Elementary School, located in New Orleans.

Discrimination is the act of someone being prejudiced towards another. This term is used to highlight the difference in treatment between members of different groups when one group is intentionally singled out and treated worse, or not given the same opportunities. Attitudes toward minorities have been marked by discrimination historically in the United States. Many forms of discrimination have come to be recognized in U.S. society, on the basis of national origin, race, gender, and sexuality in particular.

William Frantz Elementary School United States historic place

William Frantz Elementary School is an American elementary school located at 3811 North Galvez Street, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70117. Along with McDonogh No. 19 Elementary School, it was involved in the New Orleans school desegregation crisis during 1960.

<i>Growth of a Leader</i> 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell

Growth of a Leader is a 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell. It appeared as the 1966 Brown & Bigelow Boy Scout Calendar. Long-time Rockwell model James Edgerton and his son are depicted as a Scout moving though the stages of a man's Scouting career.

This is a timeline of the 1954 to 1968 civil rights movement in the United States, a nonviolent mid-20th century freedom movement to gain legal equality and the enforcement of constitutional rights for African Americans. The goals of the movement included securing equal protection under the law, ending legally established racial discrimination, and gaining equal access to public facilities, education reform, fair housing, and the ability to vote.


  1. 1 2 Gerstein, Josh (August 24, 2011). "Norman Rockwell painting sends rare White House message on race". Politico. p. 1, 2.
  2. Solomon, Deborah (2013). American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 378. ISBN   9780374113094.
  3. 1 2 3 Halpern, Richard (2006). Norman Rockwell: the underside of innocence. University of Chicago Press. pp. 124–31.
  4. Greene, Bob (September 4, 2011). "America's glory in a civil rights painting". CNN.
  5. 1 2 ""The Problem We All Live With," Norman Rockwell, 1963. Oil on canvas, 36" x 58". Illustration for "Look," January 14, 1964. Norman Rockwell Museum Collection. ©NRELC, Niles, IL". Norman Rockwell Museum. Retrieved 2011-08-26.
  6. "O say, can you see". The Economist. December 25, 1993 – January 7, 1994.
  7. 1 2 Grant, Daniel (July 24, 1989). "Exhibit Offers Clues to Rockwell's Sentiments". Christian Science Monitor.
  8. "Exile on Main Street". The Economist. December 2, 1999.
  9. Claridge, Laura P (2001). Norman Rockwell: A Life. Random House.
  10. Bernstein, Richard, "Shedding Light on How Simpson's Lawyers Won", The New york Times, October 16, 1996