The Problem We All Live With done by Norman Perceval Rockwell is arguably the single most important image ever done of an African-American in illustration history. This piece is the most requested work at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. What makes this piece so monumental? Why is this piece so popular and even controversial? First and foremost, it was done by Rockwell, the pitchman for conservative imagery for almost fifty years.
“A painting like this depicting this subject matter, done by somebody who is embraced by the most conservative elements in our country would make these people stop and think that maybe there is a problem. And the problem is racism. Purely and simply.”-Murray Tinkelman, Chairman of the Hall of Fame Committee, Society of Illustrators
No other artist was as well known by the masses as Rockwell for forty-six years people looked forward to Rockwell’s perfect small town scenarios on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. All had grown to love Rockwell, as well as his art. He received mail by the bagfuls from adoring fans. "What a shock it must have been to open up Look Magazine and see a double-page spread with the words Norman Rockwell paints “The Problem We All Live With.” "The public, as well as the critics, must have been floored." Maureen Hart Hennessey points out with the Norman Rockwell Museum.
“What a shock it must of been for the Post as well.”
The African-American, for the first time in Rockwell's career, did not take a back seat in order to keep advertisers in a magazine. Norman Rockwell was released from the unwritten law that no blacks should be shown unless in subservient roles and the chains of artistic freedom where taken off in this piece. Norman Rockwell’s beloved and controversial painting will be the focus of this thesis.
My first introduction to this piece came in the early 1980s. Although as a small boy I had no clue what historical significance this piece held, my mother would take me to the public library to visit my favorite book, Norman Rockwell Artist and Illustrator by Thomas Buechner. This book, which proudly sits on my shelf today, contained a complete three-page fold out of this painting. Each time I saw this piece, I vividly remembered feeling sorry for this little girl. My mother, Linda Laird, told me recently while discussing this painting:
“ I could not look at this book without flipping through to see Rockwell’s painting of the little black girl getting tomatoes thrown at her. It is such a heart-provoking piece”
Much debate goes on regarding this most famous Rockwell image. Was the piece inspired by reported story of Ruby Bridges, or directly illustrated based on the words of John Steinbeck in Travels with Charley? In Ruby Bridges’ own book, Through My Eyes, several indicators lead me to believe Rockwell was all too familiar with this incident that took place at Franz Elementary School in New Orleans, Louisiana. If this is the case then the wild notion by some in the academic community that Rockwell was actually saying the problem we all live with is the little girl or black people are the problem can be tossed out a window. Even the crazy idea that the white dress held some racist symbology will be dissolved upon this research.
If one educates himself about the historical events of 1960 the assumption could easily be made that Rockwell was simply illustrating a story, as he so powerfully did throughout his career. The main difference is the story illustrated here is bitterly hard-hitting and raw. It was not Rockwell’s all so familiar perfect America, but rather a one hundred and eighty-degree departure, as he depicts segregation and prejudice in its ugliest form. This reality is more provoking because he uses a harmless, innocent African-American child that just so happens to be wearing a white starched dress that most all children wore in the early 1960s.
On November 15, 1960, The New York Times reported: “Some 150 white, mostly housewives and teenage youths, clustered along the sidewalks across from the William Franz School when pupils marched in at 8:40 am. One youth chanted “Two, Four, Six, Eight, we don’t want to segregate; eight, six, four, two, we don’t want a chigeroo.”
“Forty minutes later, four deputy marshals arrived with a little Negro girl and her mother. They walked hurriedly up the steps and into the yellow brick building while onlookers jeered and shouted taunts.”
“The girl, dressed in a stiffly starched white dress with a ribbon in her hair, gripping her mother’s hand tightly and glancing apprehensively toward the crowd.”
Ruby Bridges in her award-winning children's book Through My Eyes writes: “The author John Steinbeck was driving through New Orleans with his dog, Charley, when he heard about the racist crowds that gathered outside the Franz school each morning to protest its integration. He decided to go see what was happening.”
“He especially wanted to see a group of women who came to scream at me and at the few white children who crossed the picket lines and went to school. (At this time, I didn’t know that there were other children in the building. We were kept apart.) The women were known as the Cheerleaders, and their foul language even shocked a man as worldly as Steinbeck.”
“I never met John Steinbeck, but he seemed to sympathize with what I was going through. He wrote about me in a book called Travels With Charley. Steinbeck left his dog and his truck in a parking lot. He didn’t want to take them to Franz, where his dog could get hurt or his car could get damaged. Instead, he took a cab. Fearing that protesters would wreck his car, the driver didn’t take Steinbeck all the way to the school, but left him a few blocks away.”
“Steinbeck never knew my name. My name and the names of the girls at the McDonough school were never mentioned on television or in the newspapers. The press tried to protect us.”
John Steinbeck wrote: “The show opened on time. Sound the sirens. Motorcycle cops. Then two big black cars filled with big men in blond felt hats pulled up in front of the school. The crowd seemed to hold its breath. Four big marshals got out of each car and from somewhere in the automobiles they extracted the littlest negro girl you ever saw, dressed in shining starchy white, with new white shoes on feet so little they were almost round. Her face and little legs were very black against the white.”
“The big marshals stood her on the curb and a jangle of jeering shrieks went up from behind the barricades. The little girl did not look at the howling crowd, but from the side the whites of her eyes showed like those of a frightened fawn. The men turned her around like a doll and then the strange procession moved up the broad walk toward the school, and the child was, even more, a mite because the men were so big. Then the girl made a curious hop, and I think I know what it was. I think in her whole life she had not gone ten steps without skipping, but now in the middle of her first step, the weight bore her down and her little round feet took measured, reluctant steps between the tall guards. Slowly they climbed the steps and entered the school.” -Travels With Charley
One must wonder if Rockwell was influenced by these recorded incidents. He must have been. It would be hard to believe that the elements he shows are just coincidence. It also would be totally out of ignorance not to factor in this story of Ruby Bridges either from print or television, as inspiration.
Rockwell’s piece includes four marshals, a yellowish colored building, a little black child in a starched white dress, and the final detail of the bow in her hair. It would be fair, however, to say that Rockwell took artistic license and was able to take the given historical elements and mold them, into his own interpretation.
Just as Howard Pyle, who had in “the golden age” depicted historical events, Rockwell was America’s favorite storyteller and as show, his earliest concept was to depict the incident as it had happened with the little girl in a white dress and he never changed this. Why are the suits of the marshals not black or dark grey as they were at this time? Rockwell had to take the darkness away from them not only for effect but to pull off a good painting. It is obvious that Rockwell wants the emphasis to be on this little black girl and her story, not on the marshals. He uses an old trick used by his contemporaries to solve the problem. Murray Tinkelman states:
“The cropping of the marshals’ heads I think is inspired. These guys become symbols of all law enforcement and how law enforcement stands above racism.”
Norman Rockwell does not name the little girl, nor does he use a model that is a mirror image of Ruby Bridges, so yes, he was not one hundred percent accurate. I do, however, feel that he used Ruby Bridges story as his inspiration with no doubt in my mind. Rockwell might have died not even knowing the child’s name because it is said that they kept Ruby Bridges name out of there media to protect her. Travels With Charley cannot be found in the Rockwell library, so one may discredit the notion that he used this novel as inspiration. I conclude that he might have heard of the story on the news or read about the incident through the earlier excerpt from The New York Times.
Walter Cronkite reported the incident in 1960 for the evening news so the national coverage gave the American people, including Rockwell, all the horrible details. Including eggs being thrown by segregationalist housewives, words that were so bad that the sensors had to muffle the crowd noise and blot these hurtful, horrible words out of their coverage.
“No newspaper had printed the words these women shouted. It was indicated that they were indelicate, some even said obscene: On television the soundtrack was made to blur or had crown noises cut to occur. But, I heard the words, bestial and filthy and degenerate." -John Steinbeck. Travels With Charley
To be so dead set on believing that Rockwell meant anything other than showing the terrible problem of racism in America in 1964 would mean you could not believe the story of Ruby Bridges and her plight four years earlier. Rockwell’s painting is probably the mostly widely used image in school books today as Mareen Hart Hennessay quoted earlier.
“One should note that it is not—necessarily—Norman Rockwell’s politics or religious views that are so often attacked or disdained. He was what in any milieu one would have to call ‘a decent man,’ and in many instances, courageous. His painting, The Problem We All Live With appeared on the cover of Look magazine on January 14, 1964. It infuriated some, heartened the hopes of others, shamed many, and was met with indifference or scorn by the Art Establishment. The Problem We All Live With strikes directly at the heart and exemplifies Rockwell’s hallmark approach: strong horizontals, close foreground, and, especially, telling details which draw the viewer into concluding a narrative, one orchestrated to move him. The perceptive viewer notes not only the confident posture and countenance of the young girl- her escorts are cropped and anonymous agents of the law -but the writ in the pocket of the advancing guard, the contrast of schoolbooks with the graffiti on the wall, the smashed tomato (the least of projectiles launched in those times). It is an approach common to centuries of fine art, emblematic and immediate. But Rockwell’s concern at this date is not doctrine, or delight: he stirs a decent empathy, a quietly powerful outrage.”
“Further, none in the Art echelons particularly condemn art when it scrapes the ‘political,’ at least, not if it supports their brand; nor are artists generally disdained for being ‘apolitical,’ which, in many senses, Rockwell was not. He was most assuredly a Constitutionalist, certainly by sentiment. (That latter term is important.).” -From The Norman Rockwell Museum Norman Rockwell: Pictures for the American People
I will conclude by again sighting these words by Dr. Manning Marable:
“It would be better to feel ourselves unsettled by the full truth of these historical horrors before we commend ourselves for having buried the past. As we peer into the unmarked graves of the ghosts that haunt America still, perhaps the path to peace lies not only in dreaming a better future for black children but in awakening white Americans to their own history . . . .” -“Along the Color Lines, White Supremacy in Dixie,” February 2000
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2009 Ken Laird Studios
Jack Lee from Yorktown NY on January 06, 2020:
I came late to this discussion. Just visited the Norman Rockwell Museum at Stockbridge. This debate about what his politics was is futile. He was an American icon who's art illustrated life in America over a few generations. America changed over those periods and so did Norman Rockwell. He was conservative in many of his commentaries in illustrations. America was conservative and still is in many aspects. When did conservatism get a bad wrap?
The left like to frame the discussion around race. They brand their opponents as racist, or homophobe or sexist...but that is not what conservatism stand for. Conservatism stands for a color blind society where the Constitution and limited government and self determination is the key to success.
Race relations will never get resolved if we continue down this path of identity politics.
camron on October 12, 2017:
aaliyahreese on October 12, 2017:
I felt like this story was pretty good about her helping people understand not to judge people by there race. I felt like when i first started reading this is was boring then when i got toward the end, i got gazed into it. I want to learn more about her past and her future. I mean they had schools, water fountains sorted out by there race .That stuff is rude and disrespectful. I'm glad they wrote a book about about Ruby Bridges. I'm glad our world is not like that now. She the one who got all colors going to the school, sharing water fountains, and using the same bathroom. Now that i read about 2 of her books, i think i want to meet her in person. I want to be just like Ruby bridges
Bob ; -) on February 24, 2017:
This was a great text. It really helped me understand Ruby Bridges more. She really was a great person who helped us all! I want to keep reading more about her.
Hello Ruby Bridges! on February 24, 2017:
this articles is awesome!
john hall on April 14, 2016:
this is amazing guys
DoveFreexrolo on March 01, 2016:
It really a cool and helpful piece of info. I am glad that you shared this helpful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.
Deskbeems on September 12, 2015:
I’ve read several just right stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how a lot attempt you put to make the sort of magnificent informative web site.
Treathyl FOX from Austin, Texas on November 11, 2014:
A very powerful message you have conveyed via this HUB. VOTED UP! Useful • Awesome • Beautiful • Interesting - But definitely NOT • Funny.
Arnold Levine on October 22, 2013:
Your description of Norman Rockwell as a conservative pitchman is way off the mark. While t is true he painted images that today's conservatives
might try to claim (they would be careful to choose only those showing Mom and Apple Pie) He also was a New Deal democrat. He hated Nixon for his Viet Nam stance. His hero was FDR. He espoused freedom of speech and religion for all, and stood behind Democratic social programs. He would not be a hero to the conservaticve movement
Kathy Andres from Lansing, Michigan on May 01, 2013:
Hello Ian, the movie is called "Ruby Bridges" it can be seen through Netflix DVD delivery. It is not available through streaming. Also look on Youtube, she has several speaking engagements, interviews and a visit to the White House when the portrait was hung.
Kathy Andres from Lansing, Michigan on April 24, 2013:
Thank you for this post. Ruby is my third cousin, my mother's second cousin. She is a sweetheart! I have to send the link to her!
Valentine, Dubois on December 16, 2012:
J'aime beaucoup ! (:
moi on December 05, 2012:
Margot on October 18, 2012:
je suis francaise et vu que je suis la meilleure et que j'ai la flemme de les traduire, mettez les en francais bande d'ignorants !
Nick Hanlon from Chiang Mai on July 24, 2012:
Great article about a great painting about a great moment.Keep at it.Loved it.Nick.
ian on May 23, 2012:
can anybody help me, was there a film about the girl if so what was it called thank you ian
Jean Michelle de la vilardiere on May 22, 2012:
Bertrand céssé de faire peur a ces jeunes qui ne font que s'amusé vous n'avez donc rien d'autre a faire a votre age voyons !!
Bertrand Richard Daniel Vincent De la Rose on May 22, 2012:
Vous dégradez ce site... celà m'importune vraiment
Rachid on May 22, 2012:
Ici Cest la paillade cest la paillade cest la paillade !!!
Axel on May 22, 2012:
La téci cest pourri rentre chez toi youssef !!!
youssef david on May 22, 2012:
d'akor avec tuoi vive la cité grros
Jean Mouloude on May 22, 2012:
Ajaccio et bastia cest des tourriste en Ligue 1 mais bn apres leur année sympatique en Ligue il vont retourné au travail en Ligue 2 :P
un Corse on May 22, 2012:
Ajaccio et Bastia l'année prochaine sa va barder !
Jean Claude on May 22, 2012:
Le Psg 200 millions d'ivestissement pr finir 2nd de la Ligue Moi je dit BRAVO !!
jennifer aniston on May 22, 2012:
l'algérino on May 22, 2012:
bernad on May 22, 2012:
Allez Allez Allez Allez et la paillade et la paillade
john on May 22, 2012:
hova on May 14, 2012:
why. she was a good prsen
Constant rodriguez on April 05, 2012:
Ta mère elle est moche
an on March 31, 2012:
please love open our eye sem and love
Ikobobo on March 28, 2012:
I first encountered this painting on the wall of an assistant principal during my first year as a teacher. It owned me; it brought to the surface, and solidified, many of the inexpressible reasons I had spent the previous seven years earning a place in the profession. That was twenty years ago. I plan to be in the class room for another twenty years. Would that we give thanks for the bravery of children and painters. Nice article.
poo on February 23, 2012:
poo is naked
mrbob on February 23, 2012:
bob is cool
vxt on January 24, 2012:
why does it keep showing a black girl
Heather Cruikshank on January 23, 2012:
Interesting article, but to say "'Travels With?Charley' cannot be found in the Rockwell library, so one may discredit the notion that he used this novel as inspiration" is simply illogical. Have the author never heard of a public library? Perhaps Rockwell lent the book to someone and never got it back. In addition, "Travels with Charley" is not a novel; it's a memoir.
chris on January 11, 2012:
Ismary S. on December 14, 2011:
AND thank you Mr.Laird for writing such an elegant article.
Ismary S. on December 14, 2011:
I am a 15 year old girl born in the United States with Hispanic origin. If it weren't for my accent and my name, everyone would have thought I am white. Even though I am young and might not no much about the world today or yesterday, I was moved when I saw this painting. I understood so much as to what it meant, but never really quite learned the historical events and the details of the story. After reading this article I feel like I understand more of the problem we all live with. Thank you Hubs for making this information available for us to read.
Winnie on November 05, 2011:
Loved the article. My dad was one of the Marshall's. :)
Steve on October 20, 2011:
I own a signed numbered copy (5/100) of this painting which was left to me by my father on his death. It's always been my favorite Rockwell.
DrBill on August 30, 2011:
President Obama has kindly chosen Ruby Bridges Hall to remind us of work yet to be done and miles yet to be traveled. No public figure,let alone an American President, has endured such pure unmitigated hatred with such grace and courage. The President has saved our economy and saved our Constitutional Rights in the face of a sham menace created by our own elite of greedy first citizens. But, can he save us from ourselves? Ruby would think so.
Tariea on August 28, 2011:
This is truly an amazing piece of our history. Thanks to the freedom of speech and expression. Rockwell spoke volumes.
Lucy on August 25, 2011:
Rockwell covered the full spectrum of emotions for the American people who loved him. He had a sense of humor, as well as a sensitive spirit. I grew up in South Carolina in the 1950s and remember well the many instances of segregation. Schools in our city desegregated in 1964 and it was completely uneventful. We, as seventh graders accepted our new classmates as we did any new children. We were always excited to have someone new to talk to. Some communities were just not properly prepared and there was such a silly fear among the adults that the white children would somehow be tainted by the colored children. I don't know where people get such silly notions, but I was not raised that way and did not buy into it. It was almost like some kind of weird superstition.
jhkconsult on August 25, 2011:
I have loved Rockwell's paintings all my life. They are America in all its ways. Some good, some funny, some sad as this, that tells about a side of us we can't deny - unfortunately.
Kathy on August 25, 2011:
I remember this well, as I do other images of the civil rights movement. I was inspired by these people, and saw their non-violent movement work daily with Walter Cronkite, another American icon, and in the newspaper and our beloved Life magazine. This is a beautiful picture of a young girl whose courage I will never forget. A fitting picture to grace the White House and remind its current occupant why he is doing this job, as he must get discouraged by the racism directed at him by those who only see the color of his skin.
I have a friend who grew up in the South, and he tells of when he was a small boy and saw a drinking fountain that said "white" and "colored". He thought colored water must be much more interesting than white water, and went to try it. His parents said "No, you can't do that," knowing full well the censure he would face for it. He left the South, but never forgot that incident.
www.lookseenow on June 04, 2011:
I linked black girl with your post, because if my children go to school, and one of the parents are black they are automatically labeled black.
To be a child in the 60’s, and to view all of this, not to mention to be a part of history must have been imprinted on her face. I see evidence of this in this painting.
What would it mean to her as she’s being escorted by U S marshals that:
“God is not partial. In every nation the one that fears him is acceptable to him. (Acts 10:34)
Someone might object: the Bible is a “white man’s book.” The little girl is colored. That does not negate the statement just provided that God is not partial. The Bible is for peoples of all skin colors. It was not written by Europeans, but by Asiatic, Orientals. Yet, it was not to remain the private property of Orientals.
God is a God of love. He did not create man and then favor one above the other because of his skin color. All have the same ancestor, including that terrified child. That can be proven if we look back far enough. To start your research use Luke chapter 3, and Matthew chapter 1. The genealogy of Jesus is traced back to Adam.
How people change! The young girl pictured here if she’s still alive she would be my age. Happily we lived to see a black president.
If I may borrow let me quote an expression:
“I cannot believe that you pulled it off!”
Good post, I enjoyed reading it, regards Jerry Gehen.
Thomas Damkjær on January 31, 2011:
very nice lol
dj on January 10, 2011:
this means with out oversating the case,his cover
did more to bring the issues of
civilrights movementmore unto african americans
truly how artists have suchto"speak" through their
aj11 on January 10, 2011:
wow it means that trulyweall compile
Michelle Callis from USA on January 08, 2011:
Truly amazing how artists have such freedoms to "speak" through their artistic expressions. A picture really IS worth a thousand words! Sometimes I wonder if textbooks in schools are really needed at all...picture books K-12 might teach more! Compile "art history" and publish it for Social Studies, Math, Science...
Dr Errol D. Alexander on December 15, 2010:
While preparing for the upcoming show of Rockwell paintings at the Tacoma Art Musuem, I revisited the painting as I first saw it some forty years ago. As far as I am concerned, Norman Rockwell face should be chiseled on the Civil Rights's Mountain Rushmore with Dr. M. L. King, A. Philip Randolph, Frederick Douglass and W.E. B. Dubois. Without oversating the case, his cover did more to bring the issues of the civil rights movement more into American home than any march, picket or Tv news program within the 1960's. The cover is a spilt screen showing at the same time America at its worst and at its best. For years I kept a poster and after living in Hartford, Ct area visited Norman Rockwell's gallery with my children several times in Stockbridge, Ma. What is suprising that Ruby Bridges Hall up to a few years ago I understand had never see the original...I guess once you lived it...why see a copy. Again well done Errol D. Alexander
ibnujusup1985 from Holy earth on November 20, 2010:
picture speaks a thousand words....thanks for sharing
New Orleans Resident on November 16, 2010:
Very nicely written. Not to nitpick, the school is spelled Frantz. And the chant was actually "Two, Four, Six, Eight. We don't want to intergrate." They were already segregated at that point.
sunside on November 15, 2010:
i am so happy you found your way..thru this nightmare..good for you...i love when you come to sences...may GOD help you throught this..let him help you..leave all your past with him..remmerber he loves you
Kim Davis on November 14, 2010:
This is one of Rockwell's paintings that has spoken to me in so many ways. The fact that he could feel the true meaning of that moment in a picture speaks volumes. Being a young black female from the south and studing the history of this country along with listening to the stories from my parents and grandparents, one could hope that others out there can only begin to understand what this picture means. Thank you so very much for reminding us that its the little things in life (like this picture) that mean SO much.
tony reeves on November 14, 2010:
A nice storty- sad about what ruby had to go through as a child- but like the old quote reads, " that which will not break you; will only make you stronger"!
Edna Reed on November 14, 2010:
I remember standing in front of the original painting at Stockbridge several years ago with tears running down my face...I have never been so moved by a piece of art.
Maude B. Lofton on November 14, 2010:
Thank you for this powerful and very important contribution to the national dialogue.
lieanna jondson on October 13, 2010:
Susan on August 05, 2010:
I teach 8th grade Social Studies/English and we cover the Civil Rights period thorugh history resources and literature. This particular piece by Rockwell moves my students like no other visual. They just get it. The contrast of the tomatoe smashed against the wall is so important....and many students perceive it to be a symbol of blood and a clear evidence of rage..over an innocent small child dressed in her white dress.
Michael on August 03, 2010:
Thank you for your thesis on this painting. This was very touching and very well-written.
Kenneth Nolla on July 06, 2010:
Thanks for posting this classic image and it's relevant information. I am sure your thesis was awesome! I have a daughter and am myself a minority...and I pray we as Americans learn from this period and never again allow ourselves to be divided by hate, fear or envy. Let us all remember that as children we were all one and the same...
adorababy from Syracuse, NY on June 19, 2010:
Norman Rockwell will always be remembered with his heartwarming illustrations of the American life.
Matthew Felix Sun on February 25, 2010:
For once, I am glad to see a Norman Rockwell's painting fell outside the usual sentimentality, so popular with the audience desperate for heartwarming experiences.
wow on February 03, 2010:
Ros Webb from Ireland on January 13, 2010:
such an important work of art; thank you for writing about it.
Becky M. Benton on December 31, 2009:
I came upon this page after seeing Ruby Bridges on the "Today" show this morning. It seems that her experience in 1963 shaped the amazing person she became as an adult...a real inspiration.
My uncle was one of the US Marshals who escorted Ruby into school that day. I was six years old in 1963, and remember it all very clearly. My Aunt (also a US Marshal), told me later that Norman Rockwell was told not to reveal the US Marshals faces, because of the death treats they received.
tommyprivate on October 27, 2009:
While I can agree with the author’s statement that "The Problem We All Live With" by Norman Perceval Rockwell is the single most important image of an African-American in illustration history I strongly disagree with his assessment that Rockwell was "the pitchman for conservative imagery" and was somebody "who is embraced by the most conservative elements in our country."
This is unfortunately a very brush perception which shows not only a great misconception about the true person and nature of Norman Rockwell but also what he embodied in his art. Besides Ron Schick’s “Behind the Camera” there is another great book about Norman Rockwell, “The Unknown Rockwell: A Portrait of Two American Families” which deals with the man behind the canvas, or as stated by the curator for education of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA, Tom Daly, “the most important work about Norman Rockwell, the private man, since Rockwell’s own biography.” The book
Authors Buddy Edgerton and Nan O’Brien remind us of the courage that got our country through an incredibly tough time in the past, that of the Great Depression and World War II, and urge us to unpeel the distractions of our current lives so that we are empowered to embrace the challenges of our times instead of being defeated by them. The book resonates with the memories of our own family histories told around the dining room table, when families still gathered to share a meal
The book, told in anecdotal narratives, provides a first person account of two families who were unique because of both their disparity and their similarity. While they came from two economic ends of the spectrum – the Edgertons, poor dairy farmers/the Rockwells, successful due to Norman’s talents – they shared a love of family, a commitment to integrity, and a consideration of one another that created a closeness of friendship that mirrored the physical closeness of their two houses.
jackie on October 14, 2009:
wow thats a really good picture. i like it alot.
landthatilove from ohio on September 03, 2009:
Those of us who were alive when all of this was taking place can surely remember the searching of one's conscience. I had forgotten this picture but looking at it now I can remember staring at it for a long time and the impressions and thoughts it brought up.
I love your interpretation!
Ken Laird Studios (author) on August 09, 2009:
Thanks Peggy W I have included pics of Ruby Bridges being escorted to school.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 09, 2009:
What Norman Rockwell did with his painting spoke volumes!
Your descriptions of this painting were so well done that even if the photos were not included, people would have a great idea of what Rockwell had painted and the meaning behind it.
James A Watkins from Chicago on August 09, 2009:
This is an outstanding and exhaustive exposition of this single—and singular—painting. I never had any doubt what it was about from the first moment I laid my eyes on it. It was my second choice for a Rockwell for my American Art gallery, but I couldn't resist the "Girl with Black Eye." Now that I see this fine Hub, I am glad I didn't use it because it deserves the sort of explication you have expertly provided. Thank you very much.