ESTHER ADLER: My name is Esther Adler and I'm an associate curator in the department of drawings and prints here at the Museum of Modern Art. I'm thrilled to welcome you to the exhibition Charles White: A Retrospective. I think it's important at a moment in history like this to think about how art can help shape important conversations for us to have. Charles White was a person who felt that contemporary art had an incredible role to play in contemporary life. That art is something that could really make a difference in the way people saw the world around them, in the way they processed events in their lives, and in the way they chose to react to and help change those events.
CHARLES WHITE: Art is a force, you see, art is a vital force, it is alive for us. If it affects one iota of a man’s feelings then it has the energy behind it that a hydrogen bomb has.
ESTHER ADLER: That was artist speaking in the 1970’s toward the end of his career. We also had a chance to talk with a few people who were close to White, including singer and activist Harry Belafonte:
HARRY BELAFONTE: I love what he said in his paintings. He didn't minimize who we were. There's always that fierce passion for truth in the faces of his characters.