Parks captures notable photos

Published 10:00 am Saturday, February 12, 2022

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Each February, the United States celebrates Black History Month. Throughout the month, The K-V Dispatch will highlight a few of the individuals who have done much to advance the causes of Black people in the United States.

Gordon Parks was known not only as a photographer but filmmaker and author, producing some of his most notable works during the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

During World War II, Parks served as the first black correspondent to work for the Office of War Information (OWL), and one of his initial assignments was to photograph African American pioneers of another kind: the Tuskegee Airmen.

Later, he joined Standard Oil of New Jersey, working as a photographer in New York City.

According to the Gordon Parks Foundation, during that time, he wrote his first two books on photography and began doing freelance fashion photography for Vogue and Glamour.

In 1949, he joined the Life magazine staff and worked there as a photojournalist until 1968, doing over 300 assignments and articles on a wide variety of subjects.

According to the Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History, Parks used the camera and the world around him to show the state of African American life and bring attention to creativity.

During his time with LIFE magazine, he became the first African American photographer on the staff to produce photo essays showing the world what it meant to be black in America.

“I picked up a camera because it was my choice of weapons against what I hated most about the universe: racism, intolerance, poverty,” said Gordon Parks.

An exhibition of his work, created with the help of the Gordon Parks Foundation, was scheduled to take place at London’s Alison Jacques Gallery in early 2020 but was postponed due to Covid-19.

It has only recently opened.

On Feb. 2, Yale University announced that their Beinecke Library is now home to 222 of the best-known images by Parks who died in 2006 at the age of 93.

Many of the images were published through the 1940s, 50s and 60s by Ebony and LIFE magazine.