A visual image is worth a thousand words. Millions have recently seen and shared the powerful meme of Vice President Elect, Kamala Harris, walking in the silhouetted shadow of a young girl, an homage to an earlier historical marker of equity and social justice created by Norman Rockwell. Norman Rockwell Museum is home to the original painting, The Problem We All Live With, which marked the civil rights journey of young Ruby Bridges, and which resides in the Museums permanent collection.
A contemporary reference to this image showing Kamala Harris walking in Ruby Bridges footsteps, created by Bria Goeller, went viral as preliminary election results were announced over the weekend, celebrating two historic moments that broke glass ceilings for women and BIPOC. This work created originally for Look magazine in 1964 is a signature image of the landmark global exhibition, Norman Rockwell: Imagining Freedom, now on view at Norman Rockwell Museum. The exhibition illustrates the power of images to inspire and motivate progressive societal change in the past and present.
At the pinnacle of his career, Norman Rockwell put his brush to work for equity and social justice with his bold portrayals of the Civil Rights Movement, creating in 1964 the iconic image The Problem We All Live With, which memorialized a young Ruby Bridges walk as the first black child to integrate her elementary school in New Orleans. One hundred years after white women secured the right to vote, and sixty years after Rubys courageous walk, and just 45 years after the amended Voting Rights Act of 1975 (first enacted in 1965) enshrined the right to vote for ALL women, Kamala Harris, a woman of African American and Indian-American heritage, is elected the first woman to serve the White House as Vice President. She walks in the footsteps of the Suffragists, of Ruby Bridges, and so many others, like President Barack Obama, who broke barriers of equality, often against a tide of fierce racist rhetoric and physical threats to their lives, commented Laurie Norton Moffatt, director/CEO of Norman Rockwell Museum.
Norman Rockwell recorded this moment sixty years ago, and today, a brilliant artist, Brio Goelle of the African American-owned design firm, Good Trubble, paid homage to the historic moment, referencing Rockwell. She immortalized the progress of this exciting moment for BIPOC women and all women, by using Rockwells immediately recognizable iconic image as the symbol to measure todays pivotal historical shift. Visual images are powerful markers of history, and it is remarkable that of all the artists in America's history, Norman Rockwell now imprints two key moments in America's stride toward social justice for BIPOC citizens and for women, Norton Moffatt noted.
Ruby Bridges always credited her mother with the courage to send her daughter to integrate the first school in New Orleans. The courage of parents taking a stand to advance equality is reflected in the familys trust in the U.S. Marshalls to keep their daughter safe. On her Instagram account Tuesday evening, Ruby Bridges said of her mother, Lucille Bridges passing, Today our country lost a hero. Brave, progressive, a champion for change. She helped alter the course of so many lives by setting me out on my path as a six year old little girl. Our nation lost a Mother of the Civil Rights Movement today. And I lost my mom. I love you and am grateful for you. May you Rest In Peace. Our hearts go out to NRM trustee emerita Ruby at this time. Her mothers courage, and that of so many mothers and fathers, made possible Kamala Harris and this nations progress toward equity and justice, added Norton Moffatt.
Visitors are invited to reflect on the original Rockwell piece with timed advance tickets available at NRM.org