In the 1940s, most White Americans had no idea of what it was like to be an African American. They knew nothing about the squalor many Black Americans lived in, and they were blind to the rules that forced Black Americans to drink from separate water fountains, sit in different sections of the bus, and attend different schools than their White counterparts. Then, Gordon Parks, a self-taught photographer from Kansas, began documenting the lives of Black Americans in all their joys and sorrows. These fourteen striking photos taken by Parks show what it was like to be African American in the mid-1990s.
Born in Kansas in 1912, Parks lived in poverty and experienced segregation every day. His interest in photography was spurred by seeing migrant works featured in a magazine. His dream was to showcase the lived experience of Black Americans.
On Assignment For Life
In the 1950s, Life was America’s most popular news magazine. In 1956, Parks was assigned to use his talents as a photojournalist to shed light on a Black Alabama family.