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C*LTURE: Gordon Parks - Segregation Story

Gordon Parks, an extrodanary, emotive and pioneering photographer. A active humanitarian fighting endlessly for social justice both behind and in-front of the lens. With an exceptional body of work focusing on poverty, race relations and civil rights, Gordon Parks documents American life and culture from the early 1940s into the 2000s. A powerful force, he was also a distinguished composer, filmmaker and author.

Woman and Man standing next to a tree with pink flowers.

“The Restraints: Open and Hidden” September 1956, Life published a photo-essay by Gordon Parks which documented the everyday activities and rituals of one extended African American family living in the rural South under Jim Crow segregation.

Two young girls play with teacups in the water.

Three boys by a barbed wire fence, one holding a gun.

Untitled, Alabama, 1956

Two boys play near the river.

'In the wake of the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Life asked Parks to go to Alabama and document the racial tensions entrenched there. He would compare his findings with his own troubled childhood in Fort Scott, Kansas, and with the relatively progressive and integrated life he had enjoyed in Europe.' *

A elderly couple on a porch.

A young boy between long tall reeds.

A family on a porch.

Willie Causey and Family, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956

'The images Gordon Parks captured in 1956 helped the world know the status quo of separate and unequal, and recorded for history an era that we should always remember, a time we never want to return to, even though, to paraphrase the boxer Joe Louis, we did the best we could with what we had. Our young people need to know the history chronicled by Gordon Parks, a man I am honored to call my friend, so that as they look around themselves, they can recognize the progress we’ve made, but also the need to fulfill the promise of Brown, ensuring that all God’s children, regardless of race, creed, or color, are able to live a life of equality, freedom, and dignity.' Charlayne Hunter-Gault - Excerpt from “Doing the Best We Could With What We Had,” Gordon Parks: Segregation Story *

A family at a segregated drinking fountain.

At Segregated Drinking Fountain, Mobile, Alabama, 1956

A family at a segregated cafe.

Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956

Six young children looking beyond a fence to a fun fair.

Outside Looking In, Mobile, Alabama, 1956

*Taken from The Gordon Parks Foundation -


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