While precious few books on the subject of 'American Art' recognised the importance of Charles White, by contrast, such was his stature in narratives of African American art, that he inevitably featured in such publications. Typical in this regard was the 1973 book, The Afro-American Artist: A Search for Identity, written by Elsa Honig Fine and published by Holt, Rinehart & Winston, New York. White's substantial representation in the volume came in Chapter 6 - The Black Artist at Mid-20th Century. From pages 170 - 175, White was given a significant amount of text, seven reproductions of his work, and one archival photograph of him "at work on the mural Five Great American Negroes", holding in one hand a cartoon (as in, a preliminary drawing) of the mural. Interestingly, the book stated that the "Present whereabouts of cartoon and mural unknown."
[Between 1939 and 1940, more than thirty years before The Afro-American Artist: A Search for Identity was published, White had worked on the mural, Five Great American Negroes while under the Federal Arts Projects. The mural features portraits of five of the most important figures to African American History, including Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, George Washington Carver and Marian Anderson. The mural work was originally located in the George Cleveland Hall Library in Chicago but was subsequently moved to the Law Library at Howard University.]
Elsa Honig Fine's narrative throughout the book was perhaps not entirely unproblematic, as was reflected in this passage of her commentary on White: "Indeed, White's latest works reveal a great deal of anger. A recent exhibition of eighteen "paintings drawings" - in sepia, black, and white; with ink, oils, cotton, felt tips, and Q-tips; using poster paper, Civil War posters, and stencilled numbers of price tags from slave auctions - demonstrated the artist's "heightened achievement in expressing his deep and sensitive understanding of his people." [Catalogue for the exhibition "Charles White" (Forum Gallery. New York, March 14-April 3, 1970); Art News, LXIX (April 1970), 76]. Birmingham Totem, a drawing in charcoal and Chinese ink, shows a man atop a pile of dynamited wood and was inspired by the atrocities inflicted on the Black in Birmingham during the 1960s. His Wanted Poster series was one of the most powerful statements at the Whitney Survey of Contemporary Black Artists - a propaganda piece couched in subtle technique and monumental form."