The Problem We Still Live With

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The 5th grade students were eager to begin reading The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963, the Newbery Honor–winning book by Christopher Paul Curtis. The interdisciplinary unit was designed to sharpen their literacy skills while introducing the themes of prejudice, segregation, and the history of the civil rights movement. To begin the unit, I shared Norman Rockwell's The Problem We All Live With, a classic oil painting featured in Look magazine in 1964. The picture shows 6-year-old Ruby Bridges on her way to school in segregated New Orleans. In the illustration, the black child, dressed in a crisp white dress, is escorted by four U.S. marshals, their faces not visible. On a wall behind them, we see the letters "KKK" and an ugly racial slur; a red splat makes it evident that a tomato was recently thrown.

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Educational Leadership, v. 72, no. 6, p. 16-20

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