28 days of Black History Month: Gordon Parks

28 Days of Black History Month (February 26th, 2015)

Gordon Parks  (November 30, 1912 – March 7, 2006)

Gordon Parks
(November 30, 1912 – March 7, 2006)


Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks, Born on November 30, 1912 in Fort Scott, Kansas was a world renown Photographer, Writer & Film maker. Gordon Parks built a stellar body of work during his career. He is credited with being the 1st African American to photograph for Vogue & Life magazines. At the age of 25 he purchased his 1st camera in Seattle, Washington after having them developed he was convinced he should take this craft seriously. It was very difficult for him to land jobs as a Photographer because of the times (Racism, Segregation) but that didn’t deter him, it made him more focused. In 1940 he Relocated to Chicago, there he fell into his niche. American Gothic, Washington, D.C. would be one of his most notable pictures, It portrays a member of the FSA (Farm Security Administration) cleaning crew in front of an American Flag.

Parks soon relocated to Harlem, New York and become a legend. Landing Gigs working for Vogue, where he chose to take pictures of the models in motion as opposed to standing still. It will become a Gordon Parks Trademark. In 1948, Parks was hired to become a staff photographer for Life after his work showing a Gang member in Harlem. He was also a Director the man behind the lens in the Classic film Starring Richard Roundtree Shaft & Shaft 2 in 1971 & 1972. Parks was the go to man for African American leaders when they wanted to be photographed, Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali just to name a few. In 1969, Parks became the 1st African American to Direct a major Hollywood movie, the film adaptation of The Learning Tree (The Autobiography he wrote in 1962) . He was also a co-founder of Essence MagazineHe wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the film. Gordon Parks was very active in the Civil Rights Movement he was there documenting a lot of it with his lens. He was married 3 times and had 4 children. On March 7th, 2006 he died of Cancer, He was 93!

Editor’s Note: 

My connection with Gordon Parks was the re-imagined “A Great Day in Harlem” photo that acclaimed Photographer Art Kane shot in 1958. This one was taken 40 years later in Harlem with Hip Hop Artists & it was shot by Gordon Parks, Respect Due. #Thankyou



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