i have featured images by photographer Gordon Parks many times on the blog, but have never done a post dedicated solely to his work. which is weird, considering he’s such a legend. he was the first African-American writer and staff photographer at Life, the first African-American photographer published in Vogue, and the first African-American to direct a major Hollywood film. in 1956, during his time at LIFE, he went to Alabama to shoot what would become one of the most important and influential photo essays of his career: Segregation Story.

Parks shot over 50 images for the project, however only about 20 of these appeared in LIFE. The rest of the transparencies were presumed to be lost during publication – until they were rediscovered in 2011, five years after Parks’ death. The photographs are now being exhibited for the first time and offer a more complete and complex look at how Parks’ used an array of images to educate the public about civil rights.

please note that the first image of this post (above – Boy with June Bug, Fort Scott, Kansas, 1963) is not from Segregation Story – but i loved it so much it had to be included. all images thanks to Artsy, courtesy of the Gordon Parks Foundation. you can currently see Segregation Story at Adamason Gallery in Washington, DC.

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15 Comments

  1. fran shenker Reply

    I love his work — I once found an amazing book of his poetry in the old Cape Town Art Library — If as You Say is one of my favorite poems …

  2. Telling stories through words is powerful. Telling stories through photographs is also very powerful. Parks was, undoubtedly, good at doing both.

    I’m happy that the unpublished images were rediscovered — they show history, they ARE history and they should be seen.

    Thanks so much for sharing. <3

    Dee | http://www.daundra.com/blog

  3. Fran Shenker Reply

    Two other photographers I love are Fred Herzog and Sol Leiter, both have the same empathetic eye

  4. This brought me so much joy! He is more than amazing.thank you for profiling him. I LOVE/WORSHIP your page. Its always my go to place for inspiration/motivation/dreams/colour.

  5. These photos are beautiful yet very sad, the one that saddens me the most is the one of the group of kids looking into the fancy park through a fence, all they probably want to do is play.

    The emotions they bring about are too real, I guess that is what a good photograph is supposed to do.

  6. These are breathtaking. I couldn’t help but think if the story behind each and every one. Phenomenal everyday life.

  7. Such powerful images. So shocking to be reminded just how blatant and ‘ok’ segregation was back then. We have come a long way, but not far enough …

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