The story behind that viral illustration of Kamala Harris and Ruby Bridges

Alyssa Newcomb
·2 min read

There's so much history packed into a now-viral illustration that depicts Vice President-elect Kamala Harris walking next to a wall with her shadow transformed into the silhouette of a famous painting of civil rights activist Ruby Bridges.

The drawing, created by San Francisco-based artist Bria Goeller for satirical clothing company WTF America, is being shared widely, including by Bridges herself.

"I am Honored to be a part of this path and Grateful to stand alongside you, Together with Our fellow Americans, as we step into this Next Chapter of American History!" Bridges wrote on Instagram.

Bridges, now 66, was 6 years old when she became the first Black child to desegregate Louisiana's William Frantz Elementary School in 1960. This moment was famously depicted in a 1964 painting by artist Norman Rockwell called "The Problem We All Live With." In the illustration, Bridges narrowly misses being hit by flying fruit and is flanked for protection by several grown men, whose shoulders and heads are cut off.

Goeller paid tribute to Bridges in an Instagram post after she shared her art.

"Ruby. I cannot begin to express what it means to me that a hero like you is thanking me," she wrote. "The WORLD thanks you. I am beyond honored to be a small part of this beautiful moment in history, but the praise goes to leaders like you. You have always been an inspiration to me."

Related: In 1960, as a 6-year-old, Ruby Bridges became the first Black child to integrate a previously segregated school in New Orleans. She shared her story on Selena Gomez's Instagram account.

Goeller said she grew up in Louisiana and that Bridges was a "large part of my understanding of its history."

"I was in awe of your determination as a young girl and I am equally so now. Keep standing tall. You have brought strength to so many. And you continue to do so now," she wrote. "Much love. You deserve it all."

Last year, the 59th anniversary of when Bridges made her historic walk into an elementary school, TODAY anchor Hoda Kotb reflected on her impact.

"Ruby Bridges is an incredible human being..." she wrote on Twitter. "I had a chance to interview her when I was a reporter in New Orleans — my daughters will know her name."

Like Bridges before her, Harris is also breaking barriers. As of Saturday, she will be the first woman to hold the U.S.'s second-highest office. She's also the first Black American and South Asian American to do so.