Blue Earth
Glazer's Camera

Gordon Parks, 1912-2006


Photojournalist Gordon Parks, known for his work with Life magazine as well as for directing films, died at his home in New York City on March 7, at the age of 93.

Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kan., in 1912, the youngest of 15 children. In 1941, he became the first photographer to receive a fellowship from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation. He joined the staff of the Farm Security Administration and, later, the Office of War Information, whose combined collection of documentary photographs is among the most famous ever produced.

Parks' first commercial work was as a fashion photographer, and he contributed to Vogue, Glamour and Life magazines in the 1940s.

Parks made the transition to film in the 1960s, becoming the first African American to produce and direct a film for a major studio: "The Learning Tree," based on his semi-autobiographical novel. His second film, "Shaft," was a commercial success and has become a cult classic.

Parks was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum in 2002. In addition, he received a Notable Book Award from the American Library Association in 1966, for "A Choice of Weapons"; an Emmy in 1968, for the documentary, "Diary of a Harlem Family"; and the Jackie Robinson Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002.