Fiche méthodologique n°1
‘The problem we all live with’
This document is an illustration by Norman Rockwell entitled ‘The problem we all live with’ published in Life, anAmerican magazine, in 1964.
Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was an American illustrator He specialized in scenes of everyday small-town life. He was very popular. .
A little black girl isapparently walking to school, as can be seen by the books and the ruler she is holding in her left hand. She is surrounded by four large men, as if she was a prisoner.
We can observe that there are tomatoessplattered against the wall, and such aggressive graffiti as “nigger” and KKK (short for Ku Klux Klan [‘ku: kl ks ‘klæn]), which clearly shows that this little girl – and along her the whole blackcommunity – is the target of attacks from various hate groups.
The four men are federal policeman, as is shown by the armbands they are wearing, which read ‘US Marshall’. The role of federal officersis to enforce the law. They are her bodyguards and they have to protect her on her way to school. The fact that we can’t see their faces makes the little girl even more visible. It really focusesthe attention on her. This could also mean that their role is more important than their person.
The contrast between this fragile-looking little girl and the four massive men is emphasized by thecolours used. Her white clothes stress her innocence.
The scene takes place in 1964, which is the date of the official ending of discrimination in education in the US. In other words, it is the datewhen the Civil Rights Act was enforced/implemented (= appliqué) in the US. The law made it clear that all people, regardless of colour, now had access to all educational facilities. It created a lotof trouble in the South and all states with strong racist sentiment and Ku Klux Klan influence. Actually, for a black student, entering a so-far-all-white campus for the first time, and intending...