After resigning from his forty-seven year tenure with The Saturday Evening Post in 1963, Norman Rockwell (1894 – 1978) embraced the challenge of addressing the nation’s pressing concerns in pared down, reportorial style. The Problem We All Live With (1963), his illustration for Look magazine, is based upon an actual event, when six-year-old Ruby Bridges was escorted by US Marshalls to her first day at an all-white New Orleans school. Rockwell’s depiction of the vulnerable but dignified girl clearly condemns the actions of those who protest her presence and object to desegregation.
Rockwell commissioned this white dress, and two others like it, in different sizes from a local Stockbridge, Massachusetts seamstress. He was not sure yet of the age or size of his model, and he typically posed several people in the same role before deciding who best fit the part. For the child in The Problem We All Live With, he ultimately selected his neighbor, Lynda Gunn.
All Photos Taken at The New York Historical Society in Manhattan.