“Dad was a good man. He never had a chance to rest on his morals” David Parks.
This February, Macy’s, an American retail institution salutes American cultural hero Gordon Parks in celebration of Black History Month. Via special events and exhibits at select stores across the country, Macy’s will honored the legacy of this artistic master who chronicled and defined a generation and whose work continues to inspire artists today.
Macy’s, in partnership with The Gordon Parks Foundation and the American Black Film Festival honored Gordon Parks with a special event at Macy’s Galleria at Hidalgo on Friday February 22nd 2013. It was indeed a celebrated event and one to remember.
A humanitarian with a deep commitment to social justice, Gordon Parks was one of the seminal figures of twentieth century photography. From the early 1940s until his death in 2006, Parks created a body of work that documents many of the most important aspects of American culture, with a focus on race relations, poverty, Civil Rights and urban life. In addition, Parks was a celebrated composer, author and filmmaker who interacted with many of the most prominent people of his era—from politicians and artists to celebrities and athletes. He was also a noted composer and author, and in 1969 became the first African American to write and direct a Hollywood feature film based on his bestselling novel The Learning Tree. This was followed in 1971 by the hugely successful motion picture Shaft.
The celebrated event included conversation with David Parks, son of Gordon Parks and accomplished filmmaker, photographer, publicist and author, moderated by Llyod Gite, former television reporter/journalist and African art gallery owner, for a spirited discussion on Gordon Parks’ influence on film and the future of African-American cinema. Additional panelists included Joy Sewing, Fashion and Beauty Editor for the Houston Chronicle, Rebecca Briscoe, National Features Correspondent at Houston Style Magazine, and Ray Carrington, Director of Jack Yates High School Photography Program.
Panelists were asked such questions as, what kind of influence has Mr. Parks left behind in his legacy. Panelist, Joy Sewing answers; “He captured the human conditions, transformed the way we cover fashion, he has a powerful legacy”.
Panelist, Rebecca Briscoe added that having an extensive background in education, she deals with diversity and perhaps the barriers by educating her students on the vitality of educating themselves, pioneering ways for others, and creating their own opportunities as Mr. Parks has done. Her ode to Mr. Parks is her tribute in continuing the legacy through her works as a national correspondent with Houston Style Magazine, first minority publication ever allowed to cover the ESPY's in its 20th year inception. And says that, through this she was able to facilitate the relationship with ESPN for this to come to fruition.
Mr. Parks Jr. speaks on family: "Family is important. We are slowly as black people starting to get our things together with family where it needs to be. The better that gets, the better things are going to be. It's been a long trip from slavery, slavery was a bad deal but we as black people will get to the promise land but we have to get our family thing together. We have to stop doing each other in."
"Ray, what's your take on what's happening in Hollywood or what's not happening?" asked moderator Llyod Gite. Panelist, Ray Carrington begs to stay in his "own waters" and switches gears to expand further on Mr. Parks’s legacy- "I think Gordon was extraordinarily lucky that his first professional assignment, so to speak was a disaster. He messed up. But he had enough gumption to go back and try again. What this represents to me, him as a model saying you can mess if you stay with it and be successful--He went back and was able to work with Vogue, Life to the point he became renowned. He became an expert even without a high school education. He is the ultimate Role model for my kids"
About the Gordon Parks Foundation
The Gordon Parks Foundation permanently preserves the work of Gordon Parks, makes it available to the public through exhibitions, books, and electronic media and supports artistic and educational activities that advance what Gordon described as “the common search for a better life and a better world.” The Foundation is a division of the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation. gordonparksfoundation.org
Additional Credits: Article Contribution
Macy's, Gordon Parks, David Parks, Parks foundation, Rebecca Briscoe, Joy Sewing, Ray Carrington