Gordon Parks was only a teenager when he left his hometown of Fort Scott, Kansas. The youngest of 15, Parks chose to make a living for himself after his mother passed away, and wound up becoming the first African American photographer for Life Magazine.
Only two years after his first Life assignment, Parks returned home for a photo essay on segregated education. Journeying to Fort Scott and other Midwestern cities nearby, Parks photographed his childhood classmates, capturing their faces, families and homes while recording details about their occupations and incomes. The photo essay, for reasons that remain unknown, was never published, and most of the images went unseen.
And then Karen Haas, curator at MFA Boston, stumbled upon an image of Parks? that changed everything.
Untitled (Outside the Liberty Theater), 1950
?The museum decided to do a rather major publication on our African American collections across all our departments,?…
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