"The Problem We All Live With", 1963, Norman Rockwell.
On November 14, 1960, six year old Ruby Bridges attended William J. Frantz Elementary School in the 9th Ward of New Orleans. It was her first day, as well as New Orleans’ court-ordered first day of integrated schools. (…) There was an angry mob gathered outside of Frantz Elementary on November 14. Sadly, it wasn’t a mob of malcontents or the dregs of society — it was a mob of well-dressed, upstanding, housewives, shouting such awful obscenities that audio from the scene had to be masked in television coverage. Ruby had to be escorted past this offensiveness by Federal Marshals.
Rockwell deliberately leaves out the Marshals’ heads. They are more powerful symbols because of their anonymity; they are faceless forces of justice ensuring that a court order (partially visible in the left-most marshal’s pocket) is enforced — despite the rage of the unseen, screaming mob. The four figures form a sheltering bulwark around the little girl, and the only sign of their tension lies in their clenched right hands. As the eye travels in a counter-clockwise ellipse around the scene, it is easy to overlook two barely-noticeable elements that are the crux of “the problem we all live with.” Scrawled on the wall are the racial slur, “NIGGER,” and the menacing acronym, “KKK.”
The initial public reaction to The Problem We All Live With was stunned disbelief. This was not the Norman Rockwell everyone had grown to expect; the wry humor, the idealized American life, the heartwarming touches, the areas of vibrant color — all of these were conspicuous in their absence. The Problem We All Live With was a stark, muted, uncomplicated composition, and the topic! The topic was as humorless and uncomfortable as it gets.
Some previous Rockwell fans were disgusted, and thought the painter had taken leave of his senses. Others denounced his “liberal” ways using derogatory language. (…) However, the majority of LOOK subscribers — after they had gotten over their initial shock — began to give integration more serious thought than they had before. If the issue bothered Norman Rockwell so much that he was willing to take a risk, surely it deserved their closer scrutiny. (source)