FORT SCOTT, Kans. — A three-day event in Fort Scott honors a prolific photographer who played a big role in documenting the civil rights movement and other social injustices. The 20th annual Gordon Parks celebration kicked off Thursday on the campus of Fort Scott Community College.
It began with a photo exhibit called Family, Home, and Roots in the Fine Arts Center and a learning from Gordon Parks lecture.
“Wonderful that they keep his name alive here. I think that more people should know about him. And I think it should be taught in our schools, especially at Kansas of who he is. Oh, who he was,” said Karen Cayce.
Students who attend the Gordon Parks Academy in Wichita also got a tour of the museum on the Fort Scott campus. The goal is to inspire students to achieve anything they put their minds to.
“It lets our young people know that no matter where you’re from, you know, if you continue doing what you’re doing in it, if you believe in what you’re doing, that you could do the same thing he did. And in this generation, I see a lot of that happening,” said Cayce.
I’m not rich, but I’m not poor. And I have been through struggles and to know that he’s been through struggles, too, and he made it. That makes me believe that I can make it, too,” said Knew’Era Haynes.
“That was his goal, is to reach the younger generations and he’s done it successfully,” said David Parks.
Parks has many iconic accomplishments, but two arguably stand out.
“The learning Tree, which was shot here in Fort Scott, and that’s phenomenal history on that. When it comes to the awards, it’s won. Library of congress deemed it as one of the most important films in the 20th century,” said Parks.
“That lady holding about that mop. I love that one. That is so original. Yeah, that’s the one,” said Cayce.
And it’s events like this that allows parks legacy to live on.
“To keep it alive is is very important. His contributions to the you know the industry especially from the black point of view,” said Parks.
“I just think is really great that instead of brutality, he chose a peaceful approach to use pictures as a way to bring attention to the world of the injustices,” said Haynes.
The celebration continues Friday with the discussion of Gordon Parks’ relationship with Muhammad Ali. A celebration tribute dinner will be held on Saturday.