Gordon Parks was a world-renowned photographer, writer, composer, and filmmaker known for his humanitarian work on projects with a deep commitment to social justice. Parks was born into poverty in Fort Scott, Kansas, in 1912. He bought his first camera at a pawnshop at the age of 25 after admiring photographs of migrant workers in a magazine. He taught himself how to use the camera, and moved to Chicago where he became interested in documenting the poor black neighborhoods of the city’s South Side. He soon won a fellowship which led to a job with the Farm Security Administration in Washington, DC, and this is when he produced some of his most iconic images, including “American Gothic,” which pictures a member of the FSA cleaning crew in front of an American flag.
Once the FSA was disbanded, Parks began shooting for the Office of War Information. He also worked editorially for Vogue and Life as their first African-American photographer.