A Poet and His Camera–Gordon Parks, photographer, poet, musician, writer, activist

February 17, 2010

In celebration of Black History Month, we invite you to learn about American master, Gordon Parks (1912-2006), whose huge talents in various fields of the arts brought truth, clarity, and beauty to the lives of many Americans. His photography career began at age 25 when he was inspired by  photos of migrant workers. Parks documented the hardships of the Great Depression and his work drew the attention of other professionals. Encouraged to expand his endeavors, he moved to Chicago to start a fashion and portrait studio for society women, but his social conscience led him to chronicle the city’s black ghetto life on the south side. A move to Washington, D.C. furthered his career as a documentarian of society’s ills. One of his most famous photographs, “American Gothic, Washington, D.C.” (right) was Parks’s response to the blatant racism he encountered in the nation’s capitol.

Parks continued to produce critically acclaimed photographs and is best known during that period as a contributor to Life magazine. His growth as an artist led him to successes in writing, music, and filmmaking. In 1971, he wrote and directed the film “Shaft” and its sequel. A self-taugaht musician, he wrote film scores and composed music for a ballet based on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Explore the life and works of Gordon Parks at the Evanston Public Library .                      (Barbara L., Reader’s Services)


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