Delshawn Wright – Emulation

23. GP04281

Gordon Parks

Parks overcame racial obstacles in Hollywood to become the first prominent black director. His work depicts his own struggle to conquer extreme poverty and prejudice rather than become embittered by them.

In 1937, in the midst of the Depression, Parks saw a portfolio of photographs taken for the Farm Security Administration, which inspired him to buy an inexpensive camera. He became a fashion photographer, but devoted his spare time to photographing the ghettos of Chicago. The resulting collection of photographs won him a Julius Rosenwald fellowship established for struggling artists. An apprenticeship with Roy Stryker in the Farm Security Administration led to a job as a photographer for Life magazine.

In 1963 Parks published his autobiographical novel, The Learning Tree. An extremely popular work, it was translated into nine languages and provided the vehicle for Parks’s directing talents. Although critics find the story touching, they are most impressed by the visual beauty of the film version. Here Parks’s talent as a photographer is in full flower. In 1963 Parks published his autobiographical novel, The Learning Tree. An extremely popular work, it was translated into nine languages and provided the vehicle for Parks’s directing talents. Although critics find the story touching, they are most impressed by the visual beauty of the film version. Here Parks’s talent as a photographer is in full flower.

This film was followed by Shaft and Shaft’s Big Score, stories of a black private eye working in the ghetto. Despite the flash and slickness of these films, critics praised Parks for portraying blacks as unique individuals in contrast to common cinematic stereotypes.

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