Gordon Parks (1912–2006) was a photographer, filmmaker, musician and author whose 50-year career focused on American culture, social justice, race relations, the civil rights movement and the Black American experience. Born into poverty and segregation in Fort Scott, Kansas, Parks was awarded the Julius Rosenwald Fellowship in 1942, which led to a position with the Farm Security Administration. By the mid-1940s he was working as a freelance photographer for publications such as Vogue, Glamour and Ebony. Parks was hired in 1948 as a staff photographer for Life magazine, where for more than two decades he created groundbreaking work. In 1969 he became the first Black American to write and direct a major feature film, The Learning Tree, based on his semi-autobiographical novel, and his next directorial endeavor, Shaft (1971), helped define a film genre. Parks continued photographing, publishing and composing until his death in 2006.
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