In the wake of Charles White's death, there were a number of celebratory evaluations of his life and work that appeared in print. Not surprisingly, given White's longstanding association with Freedomways journal, there was a special issue on White that was Volume 20, Number 3, 1980. If ever evidence were needed, not only of the unprecedented and unequaled status achieved by White as a portrayer of his people, but also of the unbounded love, respect and adulation he received, this was it.
The Contents pages attest to nature of the issue, packed as it was with heartfelt testimonials and reflections on what this great artist meant to so many different people.
Editorial - Charles White: Art and Soul
"First and foremost, an artist" - Edmund Gordon
"The story of White's art is the story of a struggle" - Peter Clothier
"Charles White was a drawer" - Benny Andrews
"He was at home creatively in any locale" - Eldzier Cortor
"He will always be a Chicago artist to me" - Margaret G. Burroughs
Charles White - Nikki Giovanni
Charcoal Blues - Tom Feelings
Charles White In Person - Sharon G. Fitzgerald
On the Road With Charlie White - Benjamin Horowitz
"He could make change in harmony with the demands of life" - Frances White
"His influence caused me to turn out little Charles Whites" - John Biggers
"His special gift for teaching..." - Richard Wyatt, Jr.
To Our Colleague - Romare Bearden, Ernest Crichlow, Elton C. Fax, Jacob Lawrence, Hughie Lee Smith, Hale Woodruff
"The impact of his art crossed the borders of North America" - Academy of the Arts, German Democratic Republic
"He was an implacable critic of his own creations" - John Pittman
"He took his art more seriously than he did himself" - John Oliver Killens
Brothuhs - Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier
"We are of the same sidewalks" - Lorraine Hansberry
"We got the message and are grateful" - M. J. Hewitt
"They loved him, the people did" - Lerone Bennett, Jr.
A Charles White Bibliography - Ernest Kaiser and Benjamin Horowitiz
Several pages of Greetings
With contributions from gallerists, fellow artists, editors, writers, collectors and other froends and professionals with whom White interacted, this issue of Freedomways was a truly remarkable document. With its contributions from luminaries and visionaries such as Edmund Gordon, Benny Andrews, Eldzier Cortor, Margaret G. Burroughs, Nikki Giovanni, Tom Feelings, John Biggers, Romare Bearden, Ernest Crichlow, Elton C. Fax, Jacob Lawrence, Hughie Lee Smith, Hale Woodruff, Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Lorraine Hansberry, and Lerone Bennett, Jr., this as as stellar a cast of contributors as could be imagined. Hansberry for example, was represented by a text originally published in 1961 as the Foreword to the catalogue of the ACA Gallery's Charles White exhibition.
A selection of Charles White's works appeared in a section of the magazine. A measure of just how talented White was can be ascertained from one of the reproductions, executed by White when he just 7 years old. The work in oil depicted a house , a tree set in a rural setting. The work had the appearance of having been produced by an artist significantly older than White's 7 years. (A different work, by an equally young White, appeared in his book Images of Dignity (Ward Ritchie Press, 1967). That particular work, featuring a cabin, set in a forest clearing, with mountains in the background was truly a remarkably accomplished ink drawing.)
Ernest Kaiser and Benjamin Horowitiz's Bibliography was an extraordinarily important section, offering as it did a comprehensive guide to material on White published up to the beginning of June 1980.
The cover of this Freedomways issue featured White's Sound of Silence lithograph from 1978. Such work marked a new departure for White, in that it was a move away from the weighty social realism of his monochrome drawings. Poignantly, this was the last work produced by White, before his death.
The back inside back cover and back cover featured a photograph of White working on his Mary McLeod Bethune Mural, 1978. Los Angeles Public Library, Exposition Park, and a portrait of White, respectively. A detail of the Mary McLeod Bethune Mural appeared in the inside front cover.