Mary McLeod Bethune, Charles White, 1978

Medium: Oil on Canvas
Dimensions: 5 x 7 ft.
Credit Line:Mary McLeod Bethune Library, Los Angeles, CA© The Charles White Archives

This image can not be reproduced without the permission of the Charles White Archives

In this symbolic oil on canvas, which claims as its central theme education and learning, artist Charles White has portrayed a younger Mary Bethune surrounded by a small family. To the observer’s left is the father strumming a guitar, a visual representation of Dr. Bethune’s love for music, which she felt was important to cultural development. In the center panel, below Dr. Bethune, is the young student reading. The ABC chart (elementary education) is open in front of him. The third panel portrays the final component of the family unit, the mother. Earth tones throughout, and the occurrence of geometric forms, reflect the African heritage of the group. Prominent throughout the background is Dr. Bethune’s Last Will and Testament.