President Barack Obama has approved the installment of a new painting in the hallway just outside the Oval Office that sends a clear message on race, reports Politico.
Norman Rockwell’s “The Problem We All Live With” depicts U.S. marshals escorting Ruby Bridges, a 6-year-old African-American girl, through a violent atmosphere into her New Orleans elementary school in 1960.
|President Obama discusses the painting.
(White House photo)
The painting gives a representative look into the white community’s largely defiant response to court-ordered integration.
Obama has not focused intently on racial issues during his first term, despite the historic nature of his presidency.
However, his choice of the Rockwell painting to adorn the West Wing wall makes a private statement.
Bridges, now 56 and still living in New Orleans, told Politico she began contacting the president last year about moving the painting into the White House because she believed it would resonate with Obama.
“It did have a lot to do with this particular president,” Bridges said. “He is a president of mixed race. So I believe he is about the same things that I am.”
Last month, Bridges visited the White House to see the painting.
“I think it’s fair to say that if it hadn’t been for you guys, I might not be here, and we might not be looking at this together,” Obama told Bridges, according to a videotape on the White House website.
“Even though there were mobs outside that school every day for a whole year, the person that greeted me every morning was [my teacher], a white woman, who actually risked her life as well,” Bridges explained.
“This [painting] will be a great way for Obama to say to anyone who comes to his office: ‘This is what I’m about.”
At 3 feet high and 5 feet wide, the painting is the most striking civil rights-related art in the White House.
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