On Honor Of Black History Month, we honor and celebrate black figures in history that have been the vanguards of our advancement. Throughout history, we have had figures that went through the fire knowing we’d someday reign. Here today we recognize their accomplishments.
Gordan Parks was an American photographer, writer, composer, and filmmaker. Prolific and world renown for his work, he is revered for projects such as Shaft and The Learning Tree.
Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas On November 30ths of 1912. Amazingly Parks is a self-taught artist that broke ground by becoming the first African-American photographer for both Life and Vogue magazines. This is especially exceptional for a creative like myself who seeks to break ground in an oversaturated media realm. If Parks can do it in his time with segregation and racism at a peak, who knows what we as people can do. Especially black creatives with dreams.
Parks was also interested in screenwriting and directing. The Learning Tree was based on his novel in which he was at the forefront of directing. A major feat, and an inspiring artist who not only wrote his own novel but directed the film adaptation to it as well. Shaft was one of his works as well, a classic that has since taken a life of its own especially with its subsequent sequels.
According to biography.com, Parks also published a few memoirs in his lifetime.
Who is Parks?
“There’s another horizon out there, one more horizon that you have to make for yourself and let other people discover it, and someone else will take it further on, you know”
Parks has an emancipating story as an African-American who carved his own path into creative history. Being a child that was born into the segregated times of America, it is common knowledge that he combatted heavy racism.
Not being allowed to participate in after school activities because of his race is one of the many hardships he faced growing up. When he was 14, he moved from home to live with relatives while seeking employment.
“I suffered evils, but without allowing them to rob me of the freedom to expand”-Gordon Parks
Parks did some work photographing low-income black houses while living in Chicago. His pictures highlighted the tragedy the inner city faced on a consistent basis of black people struggling to make ends meet. It was through this work that Parks was awarded a fellowship with the Farm Security Administration.
Parks also did some work in Harlem in NYC. The brilliant aspect of Park’s story is the evolution. Parks began as a photographer at age 25. being convinced by Marva Louis, wife of the boxing champion Joe Louis to move to Chicago he flourished as an artist. In that time he freelanced for Vogue then moved to Harlem and worked for LIFE magazine.
It was here where held a position for 20 years photographing a plethora of subjects. Then, he became a writer beginning in 1962. After that, he had developed a film making career, starting with The Learning Tree. With the movie, Parks became the first African American to direct a major Hollywood movie.
this propelled him into creating Shaft, which became a box office smash hit in 1971. This opened the genre titled blaxploitation.
Gordon Parks is an inspirational black figure who crossed boundaries as a creative. As a creative myself it is important for me to know and be aware of my predecessors, to know their journeys and the groundbreaking feats they accomplished in their lifetime. this is why black history is important and not just limited to this month.
Black history is every day.
Thank you for reading