Charles White interacted with Freedomways journal more than any other publication. His work appeared on the covers of the journal on many occasions. It was the leading African-American theoretical, political and cultural journal of the 1960s–1980s, having been published between 1961 and 1985. Freedomways (which represented itself as “A Quarterly Review of the Negro Freedom Movement”) remained unsurpassed in its embrace of, and attention to, African, African American and African Diasporic subjects. Each issue of Freedomways amounted to a treasure trove of texts and features, written by a distinguished range of scholars, academics, artists and writers.
This particular issue Vol. 8, No. 1 Winter 1968 (First Quarter) carried on its cover a Charles White drawing (possibly a lithograph) of Nat Turner, dated ‘50’. The drawing/lithograph related to a feature in the issue – “William Styron’s Dilemma – on The Confessions of Nat Turner”, written by Loyle Hairston. Styron’s acclaimed 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel presented as a first-person narrative the historical figure of Nat Turner, who led a slave revolt in Virginia in 1831.
White’s rendering of Nat Turner was first used on a 1950 poster for Nat Turner, a play in three acts, written in 1940 by playwright Paul Peters. This play, which opened in late 1950 in New York City, was an imaginative retelling of the story of Turner and his insurrection.