Gordon Parks

Voices in the Mirror gordon_parks_2.jpg
"Gordon Parks with Camera" November 30, 1912 - March 7, 2006

Gordon Parks was the youngest of 15 children and was born in Fort Scott, Kansas. He married Sally Alvis and had three children, Gordon Jr., David, and Toni. He is a well known photographer, novelist, and filmmaker. He got his first camera at the age of 25. He became the first African American photographer in Life Magazine and his photos also appeared in Vogue and Glamour. He also wrote many books including Voices in the Mirror, To Smile in Autumn, Born Black, Half Past Autumn: A Retrospective, and A Choice of Weapons. His most famous book is The Learning Tree. Later, that book was turned into a movie which he directed, co-produced, wrote the screen play, and composed the musical score for. He also worked on films like Moments Without Proper Names, Martin, Shaft, Shaft's Big Score, Super Cop, and documentaries including Solomon Northrup's Odyssey, The World of Piri Thomas, and Mean Streets.
"Gordon Parks Filming"
"Where could I begin to build pride? In church, God and the saints and angels were always white. In school the textbooks always showed my ancestors picking cotton, dancing jigs or strumming banjos. Africans were always depicted as savages. My history book never mentioned heroic blacks.."(Page 5)
-Gordan Parks and other African Americans born in his time, were not told about the successful people of his race. They grew up feeling less important because of the color of their skin. Other talented African Americans in this generation may have been stopped by this factor and could have prospered into positive influences in the world. It was unfair that Africans Americans were depicted as simple folks and demonstrates how truly strong people like Gordon Parks were for breaking from that stereotype.

"Lady at Window"
"For generations the problems of poverty have grown steadily worse. Now, the entire universe seems paralyzed by its dimensions. Starvation and homeless people have created a cycle of despair so big, so urgent and complex, no single government body can handle it alone. Big business, unions, church groups and finally we private citizens must join the fight against human misery, or in the end all of us must bear the cost."
(Page 179)

-Poverty has affected millions of people and to this day is still a huge issue in the world. Everyone needs to become more aware of its harm. If poverty is confronted as a nation and world, it can soon dwindle away and become a thing of the past. But, if poverty continues to grow and we continue to become more greedy, it will defeat us all.

"Mother and Son"
"Most blacks were weighted with the denial of opportunity but I have been fortunate to be able to shove aside those restrictive boundaries."
(Page 102)
-Many African Americans in Gordon Parks generation were made to believe that because of their skin they were of lesser value to the world. By having less opportunities and education, they felt they could only achieve so much. Gordon Parks did not let the fact that it was harder for him to achieve great things stop him from trying his hardest. Gordon Parks is a great example of how determination and passion can triumph over anything.

"Crowd with Flags"
"Almost two years in Europe had brought my past and future together. There i had been accepted without judgments based on color; there I walked the boulevards, silently proclaiming myself free, whole and respected. I had found it without racism and more in accord with those democratic principles my own country propounded but failed to live up to. Yet I was not aware that America, with all its shortcomings, still had more to offer black people than any other country in the world. The sad thing was that America made it so hard for black people to realize this."
(Page 160)
-America wasted its many talented African American people because they made it seem like the country had nothing to offer to the African American race. Although the African Americans were technically free, they were free with limitations. They were not given the opportunity to grow in skill and knowledge. If America had given equal education and rights, it could have quickly become the most intelligent and powerful nation on earth.

"Ladies in White"
"Young blacks from all walks of life- from the ghettos, cottonfields, barrios, universities and colleges- bowed to their consciences, banded together and prepared for the bloodletting. Seething with anger, they suppressed all fear and made themselves ready to do battle with the iron-side forces. Throughout the 1960s they would flirt with death day and night." (Page 238)

-The discrimination against African Americans is embarassing to the generations after it and is a scar on American History. The process of gaining equal rights was long and difficult. They struggled for years to obtain what was rightfully theirs. They only became stronger as the process became harder. And because of the brave African Americans and their strong will to succeed, they overcame that hard obstacle.


"Crowd with Flags" 2 December 2008. http://www.kristiangoddard.com/Gordon%20Parks.jpg

"Gordon Parks Filming" 2 December 2008. http://www.chrisconephoto.com/Editorial%20Web/Gordon-Parks_lrg.jpg

"Gordon Parks with Camera" 2 December 2008. http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2362/2339907528_94f271e9e6.jpg

"Ladies in White" 2 December 2008. http://www.boingboing.net/images/mn_parks2muslim.jpg

"Lady at Window" 2 December 2008. http://www.shorpy.com/files/images/3c31437u.preview.jpg

"Mother and Son" 2 December 2008. http://www.iub.edu/~iuam/online_modules/aaa/images/pArt/gp_bigMamma.jpg

Parks,Gordon. Gordon Parks: Voices in the Mirror. New York: DoubleDay, 1990.