Great Negroes Past and Present was an iconic publication, by Russell L. Adams, first published in 1963. The book was a bold attempt to bring to a general readership something of the majestic history African Americans and others of African origin had played in the building of, and history of, the US. The brief biographical sketches were of outstanding Africans and Africans who made distinguished contributions to history, to science and industry, to fine arts, to education and religion, and to the performing arts. The biographical sketches were accompanied by illustrations by Eugene Winslow. Numerous personalities were represented in Great Negroes Past and Present, and section XII was dedicated to VISUAL ART, and introduced its readers to artists such as Robert Duncanson, Edward M. Bannister, Horace Pippin, Richard H. Hunt, and Jacob Lawrence. Included in this distinguished grouping of arts was Charles White, introduced as 'Modern Painter'.

The one page outline included a text, the concluding paragraph of which was, "In spite of many tempting commercial offers, White remained true to "art for art's sake." He felt that an artist, particularly an artist who is also a Negro, had a social responsibility, and that the demands of art and society are not necessarily in conflict. He said, "I look to life and to my people as a fountainhead of challenging ideas and monumental concepts. I look to the bright new world coming; as I face a blank canvas, it is with such thoughts that I, an American Negro, turn to the business at hand - Art.""