Gordon Parks

The guy who takes a chance, who walks the line between the known and unknown, who is unafraid of failure, will succeed.

  • Name: Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks
  • Born: November 30, 1912
  • Died: March 7, 2006 (age 93)
  • From: Fort Scott, Kansas
  • Interesting Fact: was a self-taught artist who became the first African American photographer for Life and Vogue magazines.
  • Known For: known for focusing on issues of civil rights, poverty, race relations and urban life through his photojournalism from the 1940s to the 1970s.
  • Awards:
    • 1972 – Spingarn Medal 
    • 1988 – National Medal of Arts
    • 1993 – PGA Oscar Micheaux Award
    • 2003 – NAACP Image Award 

Gordon Parks was a prolific, world-renowned photographer, writer, composer and filmmaker known for his work on projects like ‘Shaft’ and ‘The Learning Tree’. Through his photography, films, autobiographical works and poetry, and musical compositions, Parks offered the world his vision. He cut through social and racial barriers and stereotypes to reveal the essence of humanity, and in doing so helped to change the world. Gordon Parks was the first African American to produce and direct major motion pictures—developing films relating the experience of slaves and struggling Black Americans, and creating the “blaxploitation” genre.


To download the Handout:

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  3. Print
  4. Write a description on the line and decorate.
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  6. Download a card and envelope template and write about an idea this leader inspires.
  7. Check out more resources and ways to celebrate MLK can be found on these links as well as our official  Day of Service opportunity to volunteer.

This ASI Special event is an ongoing volunteer-led project made by people like you, using multiple educational sources regularly being revised and updated. We would love your assistance if you or your group would like to get involved, learn more here.