The Problem We All Live With

Norman Rockwell

American, 1894-1978

The Problem We All Live With, 1964

Oil on Canvas

36 in. x 58 in. (91 cm x 150 cm)

Norman Rockwell Museum- Stockbridge, Massachusetts

The Problem We All Live With depicts four white US Marshalls escorting a young black girl down the hall of an all-white school.   A derogatory slur and splattered food appear on the wall of the school, remnants of the social unrest that followed the desegregation of schools during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.   The word “KKK” is etched into the wall as well, further depicting the dangerous racial issues of the period.  Regardless of the eminent danger she faces, Rudy Bridges courageously walks with her head held high.  Ruby’s tattered white shoes contrast with the Marshalls’ crisp, well-fitting uniforms and shiny black shoes to illustrate the large socio-economic barrier between the races.  Even as a young child she still faces the hatred, violence and social issues of the 1960s, perfectly fitting the portrait’s title—which says it’s a problem “we” all live with—including innocent children.

Jala Foster

An extended look at Rockwell’s The Problem We All Live With