More than a century ago, the pioneering American photographer and film director …

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More than a century ago, the pioneering American photographer and film director Gordon Parks was born into poverty and segregation in Fort Scott, Kansas.
The youngest of 15, he had to fend for himself on the streets as a teenager, ultimately finding solace in photography. He dedicated his career to raising awareness of social injustice and the struggle for civil rights – finding fame as the director of the 1971 blaxploitation movie SHAFT. But it was as a photographer that he first made his mark. “I saw the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of wrongs,” he said.
Gordon was LIFE magazines first black photographer. His work became legendary. In 1956 Gordon traveled to Alabama for LIFE to document the segregated South with writer Robert Wallace. Later that year in September, LIFE published 26 of Parks’ photos in the story titled, “The Restraints: Open and Hidden.” Through this career Parks persued social justice with his camera. His quiet images of daily life in Alabama bought reality of segregation to the public consciousness. The rest of the images from that assignment were thought to have been lost, but in 2012 archivists at the Gordon Parks Foundation stumbled upon more than 200 slides labeled “Segregation Series.” Images: 1956 Mobile and Shady Grove, Alabama.
Courtesy of @gordonparksfoundation

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