Wednesday, March 08, 2006

american gothic revisted - gordon parks dead

Folk, we just lost another one – Gordon Parks. Parks was born in Kansas in 1912 but had to move to Minnesota at the age of 15 after the death of his mother. Mr. Parks to me was one of those rare breeds, a renaissance man the likes of Cheikh Anta Diop in my eyes. I consider myself to be a renaissance man as well, thus the pain I feel after losing this great artistic and creative mind.

He was a musician, writer, director, and most notably a photographer. He took up photography and in 1942; he was given the chance to work for the Farm Security Administration where one of his most notable photographs - "American Gothic”.

Parks went to Washington on a fellowship from the Julius Rosenwald Fund, which included other fellows of James Baldwin, Ralph Bunche, and Zora Neale Hurston. He continued to display his greatness both in music, film and literature. He directed Shaft, Shaft's Big Score and the Learning Tree, a novel he penned after his growing up in rural Kansas.

He also worked at Vogue Magazine and eventually moved to Europe in 1950 Moves to work as a correspondent for Life magazine and was their first African-American photographer. If you want to see his work, I suggest you take a look at what he did in 1948 on the violent gang wars in Harlem through the eyes of Red Jackson, a 16-year-old gang leader.

In 1966, he published the first of three autobiographies, A Choice of Weapons which eventually led to him writing several other books including essays and poetry. Some of these works include: Gordon Parks: A Poet and His Camera, Gordon Parks: Whispers of Intimate Things and In Love, in 1971, Moments Without Proper Names in 1975 and Born Black, a collection of essays on the struggle for civil rights in America. Parks was the greatest African American photojournalist of our time since James Vandrezee. No matter what his American Gothic and Vanderzee’s Barefoot Prophet will always leaving resplendent and pronounced image of the America we came from; the one I engendered myself to never forget.

13 comments:

Love said...

It is unfortunate that we do not know our history or know those who have shaped the way for us and what their achievements were. Being of the new age era, why wasn't I taught about him while being educated? This is what I was asking for back in February. For us to go back and give homoage to those before us. Like I was telling you earlier, why isnt this page filled with responses as those that you speak about being "in love"? What do we value today? Why do we offer ourselves when we have nothing to offer? I have to let you know, you are a renaissance man, your essays tell it all. Is there a field that you do not know anything about? How about my Greenland Glaciers? Hmm...I want to be like you when I grow up. --Love

Torrance Stephens bka All-Mi-T said...

y thank u hon and there is a lot i don't know about

Mocha_Grl said...

Though I've definitely been aware of some of Gordon Parks work, it was great to have a little more insight into his life. Thank you for sharing.

Stephen Bess said...

He was one of the greatest. I really like the one that he did of Basquiat, but there are so many other photographs that just stand out with him.
By the way, my father has that same piece of art that you have in your background. It's one of the side pics of you.

ProfessorGQ said...

He is one person that I wish I knew more about before he passed.

A friend of mine pointed out how Dana Reeve, who was a wife of a celebrity, gets waaaaaaaaaay more coverage pf her death than this man who has done significant work for decades. Interesting.

Abeni said...

Was it him who took that photo of Coretta Scott King at MLK's funeral?

Me said...

nice post... i read ur list for your last post ! if only all men thought that way this world would be a better place

Brotha Buck said...

I was so sorry and ashamed that I didn't know much about this great man. Why aren't we taught these things in school. I wasn't a reader as a child, dyslexic, I think. I didn't start reading novels, or anything for that matter until my early 20s. Parks, "The Learning TRee" was one of my first, and I've overcome the dyslexic thing, and have had a book in my hand every since.

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