Gordon Parks American, 1912-2006. Writer, musician, film director, and photographer Gordon Alexander Buchanan Parks (born in Fort Scott, Kansas) has been particularly influential in the arenas of photojournalism and documentary photography. A self-taught photographer, Parks became seriously interested in the medium in 1937 upon seeing images made for the Farm Security Administration. Roy Stryker, who headed the fsa photography program, later hired him for several assignments (1942-43). Parks went on to work as an information correspondent during World War II and worked for Stryker on the Standard Oil of New Jersey photography project from 1945-48. He was a staff photographer for Life magazine (1948-61) and the editorial director of Essence magazine (1970-73). His coverage of the Black Muslim movement of the 1960s, his portraits of Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, and his story on Flavio da Silva, a poverty-stricken Brazilian boy, testify to the power and compassion of his images. Parks has received many prestigious awards, including a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship (1942), an award from the National Council for Christians and Jews (1964), the Frederic W. Brehm Award (1962), the Carr Van Adna Journalism Award, Ohio University (1970), and the Spingarn Medal, the naacp's highest honor (1972). In 1967 Nikon named Parks as the photographer and writer who had done the most to promote worldwide understanding. He holds 14 honorary degrees. Parks has also worked in color, primarily for his more artistic book projects, including Gordon Parks: Whispers of Intimate Things (1971) and A Poet and his Camera (1968). His films include Shaft (1972), Leadbelly (1976), The Super Crops (1974), and his most widely recognized, The Learning Tree (1969), for which he wrote the screen adaptation of his own novel and composed the musical score. He has had one-person exhibitions throughout the United States, including the Art Institute of Chicago (1953), the Baltimore Museum of Art (1984), and the Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Austin (1985).