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Black History Month

History-makers of Southeast Louisiana

Norman Rockwell's 1964 painting "The Problem We All Live With"


"The Problem We All Live With" is a 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell.

"The Problem We All Live With" is a 1964 painting by Norman Rockwell.


Photo from Wikimedia Commons


Remember how scared you were on your first day of first grade? Now, imagine how 6-year-old Ruby Bridges felt on November 14, 1960, the day she was the first black student to integrate the formerly all-white William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans. That day is depicted in the iconic painting "The Problem We All Live With" by artist Norman Rockwell (seen above), which was published in Look magazine.

   Due to threats of violence, Ruby was escorted into the school by four armed U.S. Federal marshals. When they were met by protesters and media, she spent her first day of school in the principal’s office. When she was able to go to class, she was the only student in her classroom because many white families withdrew their children from the school. Within a few weeks, only eighteen other students attended classes at William Frantz.

   Ruby was not allowed to go outside at recess or eat lunch in the cafeteria because it was deemed unsafe. Ruby’s entire first-grade year was limited to one-on-one instruction from her teacher, Barbara Henry, who was white and also new at the school. She rode to school each day by U.S. Marshals or in a taxi. At home, her parents suffered too. They were asked to avoid shopping at neighborhood stores and her father was even fired from his job. Some supportive people across the country sent the family money and gifts to help them through this difficult time. Former first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a letter to Ruby, offering encouragement and support. By the beginning of second grade, protesters were gone and the school was officially integrated.

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The books listed below are available for you at Sims Memorial Library.