Acclaimed Photographer and Filmmaker
Gordon Parks Dies at Age 93
Gordon Parks, the first Black American photojournalist for Life magazine and the first leading Black filmmaker, with movies such as “The Learning Tree” and “Shaft,” died March 7 at his home in New York.
“Gordon was the ultimate cool,” says Richard Roundtree, who starred in 1971’s “Shaft.” “There’s no one cooler than Gordon Parks.”
Parks was perhaps best known for his gritty photo essays on the grinding effects of poverty in the United States and abroad and on the spirit of the civil rights movement.
“Those special problems spawned by poverty and crime touched me more, and I dug into them with more enthusiasm,” he said. “Working at them again revealed the superiority of the camera to explore the dilemmas they posed.”
“The Learning Tree” was Parks’ first film, in 1969. It was based on his 1963 autobiographical novel of the same name.
Parks directed “Shaft” and a sequel, “Shaft’s Big Score,” in 1972, and that same year his son, Gordon Jr., directed “Superfly.”
Parks was born Nov. 30, 1912, in Fort Scott, Kan., the youngest of 15 children. In his 1990 autobiography, Voices in the Mirror, he remembered it as a world of racism and poverty, but also a world where his parents gave their children love, discipline and religious faith.
— Associated Press
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