GORDON PARKS Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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Name Gordon Roger Alexander Buchannan Parks                                       
Born: 30 November 1912 Fort Scott, Kansas                                         
Died: 7 March 2006 New York City                                                   
Gordon Roger Alexander Buchannan Parks (November 30, 1912 - March 7, 2006) was a   
groundbreaking American photographer, musician, poet, novelist, journalist,       
activist and film director. He is best remembered for his photo essays for Life   
magazine and as the director of the 1971 film Shaft.                               
American Gothic (Ella Watson) is a parody of the Grant Wood painting of the same   
The youngest of 15 children, Parks was born into a poor, black family in           
segregated Fort Scott, Kansas. His mother, a staunch Methodist, was the main       
influence on his life, refusing to allow her son to justify failure with the       
excuse that he had been born black, and instilling in him self-confidence,         
ambition and a capacity for hard work.                                             
When Parks was 15 years old, as said in his book "A Hungry Heart", his mother     
died. Soon after her death his father sent him to live with his married sister     
in St. Paul, Minnesota. He and his brother-in-law did not get along, he only       
lived there for a few weeks until he got in a fight with his brother-in-law and   
getting evicted. He was forced to sleep in trolley cars, loiter in pool halls,     
and play piano in a brothel. Parks also worked as a factotum in a whites-only     
club and as a waiter on a luxury train.                                           
Parks later commented: I had a mother who would not allow me to complain about     
not accomplishing something because I was black. Her attitude was, If a white     
boy can do it, then you can do it, too and do it better, or don't come home.