Art can be a powerful tool when repairing the breach of social justice. The Iconic photographer Gordon Parks wrote: “I choose my camera as a weapon against all the things I dislike about America – poverty, racism, discrimination.” This statement is just as relatable today as it was when he wrote it in 1966. Racism, discrimination, segregation, poverty and hate are branded on the American psyche. Although many years have past, and we’ve all learned how to be more polite, the scar tissue remains.
In 1956, Gordon Parks captured an amazing series of photos documenting an African-American family in segregated Alabama. The series was a part of a photo essay by Life Magazine entitled “The Restraints: Open and Hidden”. The vibrant color portraits showcased a normal family going through daily life dealing with the circumstances of Jim Crow laws. While on location, working on his photo documentary, Parks wrote in his diary” My thoughts swirl around the tragedies that brought me here. Just a few miles down the road, Klansmen are burning and shooting blacks and bombing their churches…Lying here in the dark, hunted, I feel death crawling the dusty roads.”
In the wake of the horrible shootings that took place at Emanuel AME church in Charleston, SC on Wednesday, I walked into the High Museum of Art in Atlanta with my 2 year old son, and saw images reminding me that our history is repeating itself.
I urge people of every color, who care about social justice, to visit the “Gordon Parks: Segregation Story” exhibit at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta before it ends on June 21, 2015. The exhibition features more than 40 of Parks’ color prints – most on view for the first time. I will be hosting a meet and greet there on Friday June 19th between 7pm and 10pm. The details are listed on my event page.