Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks was born on November 30, 1912. He was raised in Fort Scott, Kansas. His Father was a farmer his name was Jackson Parks, they lived modestly. Park's mother, Sarah died when he was 14 and that's when he left his home. He suffered aggressive discrimination as a child. Parks attended a segregated school, he wasn't able to participate in any activities throughout high school because of his race. Teacher's would consider African- Americans from getting higher education. He would stay with relatives for short period of times and then he would set himself free and take any job opportunity he had gotten.
Filming The Learning Tree
Park's got his first camera when he turned 25. Taking pictures caught his attention because of Marva Louis, wife of Joe Louis a champion. Joe Louis encouraged Park's to move to s larger city. Sarah, Park's wife relocated to Chicago in 1940. He was interested in low-income black neighborhoods in the South Side of Chicago. Park's won a photography fellowship with the Farm Security Administration in the year of 1941. The images were of the inner city. One is his famous photographs were, "American Gothic, Washington, D.C.", which was a picture of a member of the FSA cleaning crew in front of the American flag. Park's took pictures for the Office of War Information and Standard Oil Photography Project. He became a freelance photographer for Vogue, he worked for them for years , which there he developed a style that emphasized the look of models, garments in motion, and them not being in a static pose.
Gordon Parks Photograph by Toni Parks
Parks continued to document city images and characters while he was working in the fashion industry, even though he was relocated to Harlem . He won a position by an essay he wrote in 1948. Park's won the position as a staff photographer in the LIFE magazine, which was the nation's highest photographer publication. His position lasted for 20 years, which at that time he took photos on fashion, entertainment, sports and racial segregation. He took portraits of Africa- American leaders such as, Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael and Muhammad Ali. He launched a writing career in 1962 creating autobiographical novel, The Learning Tree. Park's was publishing a number of books throughout his life, and several works of fiction and volumes on photographic techniques.