New Orleans Civil Rights pioneer Ruby Bridges met with President Obama today to celebrate the hanging of the famous Norman Rockwell painting, “The Problem We All Live With.”
Rockwell’s painting depicts 6- year-old Bridges surrounded by federal marshals as she integrated William Frantz Elementary in New Orleans in 1960. The painting, which was on the cover of Look Magazine in 1964 and immediately became an important image of the Civil Rights Movement, was hung in the White House to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the integration of public elementary schools in the South.
“Since President Obama came into office, I have supported having the painting hung in the White House,” said Bridges. “It is the perfect symbol of how much we have accomplished in the last 50 years and a poignant reminder of how far we have left to go.”
When Rockwell moved from The Saturday Evening Post to Look magazine in the 1960s, he began to explore social commentary in his work. “The Problem We All Live With” focuses on segregation, depicting a wall of racial slurs, stains from thrown tomatoes and faceless marshals.
Bridges was accompanied at the White House by her husband, Malcolm Hall, and her youngest son, Raeshad Hall. Representatives from the Norman Rockwell Museum, which is loaning the painting to the White House through the end of October, also were in attendance, as were officials from AT&T Louisiana, a sponsor of the Ruby Bridges Foundation.
Bridges started the foundation in 1998 to provide children with an equal opportunity to succeed. Its primary initiative is to create a school in the William Frantz Elementary building that will serve as a model for integration and equity in education. The Ruby Bridges School would educate leaders for the 21st century who are committed to social justice, community service, equality, racial healing and nonviolence.