HOUSTON – In 2019, President George W. Bush set out to paint a collection of stories and oil paintings highlighting the inspiring journeys of America’s immigrants and the contributions they make to the life and prosperity of the country. The collection of paintings and essays of the immigrants’ stories are put together in Bush’s book OUT OF MANY, ONE: Portraits of America’s Immigrants.
“Since its inception, America has been ‘a city upon a hill,’ a land of refuge and liberty for those seeking a better life. Immigration has always been at the core of the American story, but it has also been a controversial part of that story, often bringing with it a great deal of anxiety and fear. Allowing that fear to dominate the discourse surrounding this complex issue, however, has caused us to forget one of America’s greatest strengths—our ability to bring together individuals of different backgrounds and cultures as ‘one nation under God.’ It is this which OUT OF MANY, ONE—the title inspired by the Great Seal of the United States, which for generations has declared E PLURIBUS UNUM, “out of many, one”—seeks to help us remember,” President Bush’s team wrote.
The essays included in the book include representation from 35 different countries and various cultures. President Bush said the stories speak to the hard work, determination, and unfaltering optimism that are inherent in both the immigrant spirit and the spirit of America. The stories include very visual or known figures including Dirk Nowitzki, Indra Nooyi, Henry Kissinger, and Madeleine Albright to ordinary individuals living their everyday lives.
All, President Bush said, have overcome insurmountable odds. Among the essays, one includes a North Korean refugee fighting for human rights, a Dallas-based CEO who crossed the Rio Grande from Mexico at age seventeen, a NASA engineer who as a girl in Nigeria dreamed of coming to America, and a man whose passion for running would literally save his life as he escaped ethnic violence in Burundi and made his way to the United States, his team stated.
“With OUT OF MANY, ONE, President Bush brings to the forefront forty-three stories of those who exemplify the promise of America and our proud history as a nation of immigrants. Through powerful four-color portraits—personally painted by the President himself—and their accompanying stories, OUT OF MANY, ONE reminds us of the countless ways in which America has been strengthened by the individuals who have come here in search of a better life. Aligned with the George W. Bush Institute’s ongoing work on immigration policy, an exhibition on the value of immigrants to America featuring the President’s portraits will open to the public at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas, Texas on April 20, 2021,” his team stated.
Watch the full interview with President George W. Bush below: