ESTHER ADLER: This image has kind of an interesting history. You're looking at four men presumably workers because they're holding implements of labor, a pickaxe. It looks like one is holding a shovel. But you also have one figure who seems to be holding a sign of some kind and it suggests a moment of protest. So men who are working and men who have something to say about that work.
Charles White was very forthright about his dedication to making images of the people he knew and loved and the community he grew up in, but he definitely saw his work as being applicable to all people. He was interested in human rights. In justice for everyone, for workers, for women. For oppressed peoples everywhere.
CHARLES WHITE: I think in just broad human terms. My feelings about life, the broad definition of love or hate or compassion. It doesn't have to have a black appendage to it in terms of saying black compassion, black love, black hate, you know. I feel very universally about these things. Now these things I try to express, but since my culture is so embedded in me, they happen to just come out black. That's my imagery. It's the same way that all of Rembrandt's people were Dutch. There was no question about that. They were Dutch people, you know. It is a very natural kind of expression.