For its August 1966 special issue on The Negro Woman, Ebony magazine used on its cover Charles White's memorable circular charcoal drawing depicting the faces of several African-American women, titled J'Accuse! No. 10 (Negro Woman). Unsurprisingly, given the history of the image's use, the work was formerly in the private collection of John H. Johnson of Johnson Publishing Co., Chicago. As Publisher of Ebony magazine, it was a page-long statement penned by John H. Johnson that introduced the special issue (p. 25). J'Accuse! No. 10 (Negro Woman) was illustrated in Benjamin Horowitz's, Images of Dignity: The Drawings of Charles White, p. 116.
J'Accuse! No. 10 (Negro Woman) referenced the famous title of the influential French novelist, playwright, journalist and writer Émile Zola's article against anti-Semitism in the Dreyfus Affair. ("I accuse...!" being the English translation). Zola's open letter was published on 13 January 1898 in the newspaper L'Aurore, and it was an astute editor, with a flair for the dramatic, who gave the piece its legendary title. J'Accuse! addressed French President Félix Faure and accused his government of anti-Semitism, which Zola alleged was demonstrated by the unlawful jailing of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish officer in the French Army, who was sentenced to lifelong penal servitude for espionage. Zola's letter gave voice to the belief that the charges against Dreyfus lacked credibility, was characterised by judicial errors and the conspicuous absence of compelling evidence. ">J'Accuse! was printed on the front page of the newspaper (The Dawn) and caused a sensation.
While with his accusatory letter, Zola put anti-Semitism (and allegations of its use by the French state) in the dock, White himself, in his series of J'Accuse! drawings leveled at the state and society accusations of racism, discrimination, oppression and wilful abuse against African Americans. White though, unambiguously portrayed African Americans as dignified survivors of racism, rather than as merely victims of racism. J'Accuse! No. 10 (Negro Woman) was in this regard, a typical work, in that it depicted a range of women who were proud, resilient and strong, and above all, resonated with humanity. Ebony magazine's special issue drew attention to the particular historical and contemporary challenges facing "The Negro Woman," describe how, reflective of the ongoing struggle for equality and civil rights, African-American women in the mid 1960s were beginning to defy the female roles and stereotypes of the era. The first secion of the Ebony feature depicted six women across the country, excelling in their respective professions as Newspaper Editor, Nutrition Expert, Computer Systems Expert, Finishing Plant Manager, Tax Account Specialist, and Employment Coordinator. Other texts included "Builders Of A New South", "The Long Thrust Toward Economic Equality", "The Angels of Saigon" (about two African American nurses treating wounded GIs of the Viet Nam conflict), and "A Despised Minority" (about the ways in which "Unwed mothers are targets of abuse from a harsh society".
The Contents page had the following reference to White's cover: "COVER: The Negro Woman, subject of this special issue, has been characterized by artist Charles White in a series of melancholy, yet proud female faces. Internationally famous for his apt portrayal of earthy Negro women, White was the logical choice for illustrating the cover of this issue dedicated to his favorite artistic subject. Today, his original works can be found in galleries, art museums and in homes of many leading entertainers. Countless inexpensive prints of them are displayed wherever there are lovers of Negro art."
There were at least 18 works in White's J'Accuse! series, with 12 of them being reproduced in Images of Dignity: The Drawings of Charles White, the Ward Ritchie Press, 1967