Masses & Mainstream, was a New York-based journal, published from 1948 to 1963, and was an American Marxist monthly publication. It resulted from a merger between New Masses, which ceased publication in January 1948, and Mainstream, a Communist cultural quarterly established the previous year. Charles White contributed illustrations to a number of the covers of Masses & Mainstream and the journal published a set of White’s prints in 1953. This particular illustration on the cover of the January 1951 issue, was a portrait of William L. Patterson. A striking, dignified portrait of the personality, in determined mood, with a visionary expression.

Patterson was a member of the Communist Party USA from 1926 to 1929 and transferred his membership to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1929 to 1936. When he was appointed to the Central Committee of the American Communist Party, he resumed his membership in it. He was a delegate to the Sixth Congress of the Communist International in 1928 and to the Tenth Plenum of the Executive of the Comintern in 1930. He also served as an official of the Red International of Labor Unions and as a representative of the Communist International in France.

A feature on Patterson, "William L. Patterson: Militant Leader", written by Michael Gold, appeared in the following month's issue of Masses & Mainstream, February 1951, Volume 4, Number 2, pp. 34 - 43.