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Photographer, Director, and Author Gordon Parks Dies


Gordon Parks, who began his career documenting black America as a photographer and went on to become a successful Hollywood film director, has died at age 93.

Parks first made his name covering everything from fashion to politics to sports as a photojournalist at Life magazine, from 1948 to 1968. However, he was best known in those years for gritty photo essays documenting the Civil Rights Movement and the effects of poverty on the lives of African-Americans.

He turned to film-making in the 1960s. His first motion picture, The Learning Tree, was based on an autobiographical novel about growing up in the midwestern state of Kansas. It was one of the first films put on the U.S. National Film Registry in 1989.

Two years after The Learning Tree, Parks directed Shaft, a hit movie about a black detective that spawned a series of black-oriented films as well as a hit song and a 2000 remake.

Over the years, Parks also wrote volumes of poetry, fiction, memoirs, and non-fiction. He also composed a ballet based on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.

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