Monday, February 23, 2015

Famous Black Firsts: Director Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks was born November 30th 1912 in Fort Scott, Kansas. The school he went to was segregated because the town was so small that they couldn't afford to be non-segregated when he was a teen and while there Black were not allowed to play sports of go to any extracurricular activities. Parks says that once a teacher told him that going to college would be a waste of money. Sounds legit. 

When he was 14 his mother passed away and he moved in with other family members who quickly put him out on the streets. His first job was as a piano player in a brothel. I swear, those places must have been so much more prevalent back in the day. At the age of 25 he became inspired to start a career in photography. In 1940 he was encouraged to move to Chicago and he started a portrait business specializing in photos of rich women. In the 1950's he started working as a consultant on film production. Later on he directed his own documentaries about life as a Black in the ghetto. As well as being a photographer and a writer, he ended up directing his own book The Learning Tree in 1969 making him Hollywood's first Black director. Yeah. It took that long for that to happen. He also composed the music for the movie. His most well known film is Shaft. He's a bad mutha...

Click here for previous Famous Black Firsts.  

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