History of Mr. Gordon Parks
Gordon Parks (1912-2006) world-renowned photographer, film-maker, writer and composer was born in Fort Scott, Kansas. He used his talents to chronicle the African-American experience and tell his own personal history. He specialized in subjects related to racism, poverty and black urban life, but he also took pictures of Paris fashions, celebrities and politicians.
Parks was the first African-American to work as a staff photographer for Life magazine, where he worked for more than 20 years, chronicling the Civil Rights movement for two decades. By the time he was 50, he was ranked among the most influential image makers. He helped found Essence magazine and was its editorial director from 1970 to 1973.
Parks was the first African-American to write, produce and direct a major Hollywood film. "The Learning Tree," in 1969, was filmed on location in Fort Scott. "The Learning Tree" was Parks autobiographical film based on his book of the same title. It is on the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. he also directed the movie "Shaft" and "Shaft's Big Score!"
Among Park's other accomplishments were a second novel, four books or memoirs, four volumes of poetry, a ballet and several orchestral scores. Parks received the National Medal of Arts in 1998 and has more than fifty honorary doctorates.
Parks said he never allowed racism to stop him from doing what he wanted to do. In an interview with the New York Times, he said, "I had a great sense of curiosity and a great sense of just wanting to achieve."