This year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Gordon Parks who is recognized as one of the most important photographers of the 20th century.
While the Fort Scott, Kansas native is best known for his iconic images in Life magazine, Parks, the youngest of 15 children was also a novelist, co-founder of Essence Magazine and a successful filmmaker.
When he passed away in 2006, he was eulogized as a true Renaissance man who constantly pushed boundaries and broke stereotypes.
Over the weekend here in Kansas City, Gordon Parks Elementary School threw a centennial celebration to honor the trailblazing artist at the historic Gem Theater. And Parks’ daughter, Toni Parks, flew in from London to join the musical salute to her late father.
At the Gem Theater, students from Gordon Parks Elementary performed the prologue of a new musical honoring the life of the school’s gifted namesake. The world premiere will be next June and the school hopes to perform it every year.
While we remember Parks’ photographs, he was an accomplished novelist and poet, and director of countless films, including the 1969 drama The Learning Tree which recounts his own experiences of racial discrimination growing up in rural Kansas.