Gordon Parks Timeline

Gordon receives honorary degree.

Timeline

1910 – 1919

1910

The population of Bourbon County in 1910 was 24,007. Fort Scott’s population in 1910 was 10,463 with 1047 (20%) African-Americans.

1912

Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks, youngest of 15 children, is born to Sarah and Andrew Jackson Parks on November 30 in Fort Scott, Kansas. Born dead, he is revived by a Dr. Gordon.

Andrew Jackson Parks family residences:

  1. 404 S. Barbee St., 1888.
  2. 404 S. Margrave., 1889.
  3. 406 S. Margrave, 1893.
  4. 605 S. Clark, 1896-1897.
  5. 102 S. Holbrook, residence of A.J. Parks, and now wife Sarah in 1898.
  6. 721 W. Seventh St., 1902-1922. (Gordon Parks born here in 1912)
  7. 623 Burke St., 1923-1928.
  8. 510 Couch St., 1928.

Attends elementary school at the 1st Plaza School (later named Hawkins School in honor of principal E.J. Hawkins).

Family attends services at the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church.

1919

Learns to play piano. (self-taught)

1920-1929

1920

In the early 1920’s, all of the African-American schools in Fort Scott were closed because of their deteriorated condition and a temporary school was opened in Convention Hall which was located on the northwest corner of the intersection of Scott Avenue and 3rd Street.

In 1923, the 2nd Plaza School opened as a consolidated school for African-American students in Fort Scott for grades 1-9. It closed in 1956 when the public schools of Fort Scott were integrated.

1928

Sarah Parks dies on May 9, 1928 and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery. Gordon is sent to live in St. Paul, Minnesota with his sister, Maggie Lee.

Attends Mechanics Arts High School, St. Paul.

Forced from home by brother-in-law, Gordon works menial jobs and continues his education.

1929

Father Andrew, brother Jack, and three older sisters, Lillian, Gladys and Cora, move to St. Paul. Gordon lives at a rooming house and takes a job at the Minnesota Club as a bellboy.

Gordon meets future wife, Sally Alvis.

Gordon enrolls at Central High School to complete his education. When the market crashes that fall he loses his job and has to quit school.

Hops a freight train to Chicago to find work.

1930-1939

1930

Back in St. Paul, Gordon lives with sister, Cora, and goes back to high school.

First composition, “No Love”.

1931

Collapses while playing basketball and ends up in bed for several months. Quits high school for good.

A busboy at the Hotel Lowery, Gordon’s “No Love” is played by the orchestra and broadcast on the radio.

1933

Goes to New York with a band but when he arrives the band has dissolved. Joined the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Married Sally Alvis. (divorced 1961)

1934

Returned to Minnesota and worked as a dining car waiter and porter on the North Coast Limited Railway’s Chicago to Seattle run.

Son, Gordon Parks, Jr. born.

1937

Buys his first camera, a Voigtländer Brilliant, for $12.50 at a pawnshop. Of that purchase he once said, “I bought what was to become my weapon against poverty and racism.”

1939

Plays for the House of David basketball team.

1940-1949

1940

Hired at Frank Murphy’s women’s clothing store in St. Paul to do fashion photography. Daughter, Toni Parks, born.

1941

He began to chronicle Chicago’s South Side black ghetto and an exhibition of those photographs won him a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship for Photography. He chose to work with the FSA in Washington D.C.

1942

Farm Security Administration photographer, Washington, D.C.

1943

Correspondent for the Office of War Information. Covered the 332nd Fighter Group of all black pilots.

1944

Son, David Parks, born.

1944-49

Moved to Harlem. Worked for Vogue doing freelance fashion.

1945

Hired by Standard Oil of New Jersey for the “Standard Oil Photography Project,” taking pictures of small towns and industrial centers.

1947

First book, Flash Photography.

1948

Book: Camera Portraits: Techniques and Principles of Documentary Portraiture.

Hired by Life, Gordon was the first black photojournalist to work for the magazine. He was on staff until 1968, and a contributor until 1972.

1950-1959

1951

Completes two years in Paris bureau of Life magazine.

1954

Worked as a consultant on various Hollywood productions and later directed a series of documentaries commissioned by National Educational Television on black ghetto life.

1955

Composed his first “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.”

1956

Piano Concerto performed in Venice.

1957

Gordon and wife Sally decide to divorce.

1959

Tours with Duke Ellington’s band.

1960-1969

1960

Photographer of the Year Award from The American Society of Magazine Photos.

1962

Married Elizabeth Campbell Rollins (divorced 1973)

1963

The Learning Tree published.

1964

Film: Flavio (documentary).

1966

Book: A Choice of Weapons (autobiography). Received “Notable Book Award” from the American Library Association.

1967

Composed “Tree Symphony”

Daughter, Leslie Parks, born.

1968

The Learning Tree movie written, directed and composed by Parks. Filmed in Fort Scott. Gordon was the first black to direct and produce a film for a major Hollywood studio.

Film: Diary of a Harlem Family (documentary). Received Emmy Award.

Film: The World of Pirie Thomas (documentary).

Book: Gordon Parks, A Poet and His Camera.

1969

Film: The Learning Tree, opens in New York.

1970-1979

1970-73

Essence magazine editorial director

1971

Film: Shaft

Books: Whispers of Intimate Things, Born Black, In Love.

1972

Awarded the Spingarn Award from the NAACP.

1973

Married Genevieve Young (divorced 1979).

1974

Film: The Super Cops.

1975

Book: Moments Without Proper Names.

1976

Film: Leadbelly.

1978

Book: Flavio.

1979

Book: To Smile in Autumn (autobiography)

Film: Shaft ’s Big Score

Gordon Parks Jr., dies in plane crash in Kenya

1980-1989

1981

Book: Shannon

1984

Inducted into NAACP Hall of Fame;

Film: Solomon Northup’s Odyssey.

1986

Kansan of the Year.

1987

First major retrospective exhibition of his photographs at the New York Public Library and the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University.

Film: Gordon Parks: Visions.

Film: Moments Without Proper Names (PBS).

1988

National Medal of the Arts presented by President Ronald Reagan.

1989

The Learning Tree is place on the Library of Congress National Film Registry Classics of the top twenty five important films.

1990-1999

1990

Book: Voices in the Mirror (autobiography).

Ballet: Martin, premieres on Dr. King’s birthday.

1994

Book: Arias In Silence.

1995

Donates his archives of films, photographs and writings to the Library of Congress.

1996

Book: Glimpses Toward Infinity.

1997

Book: Half Past Autumn: A Retrospective.

Half Past Autumn: A Retrospective Exhibition organized by the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Sept. 10, 1997-Jan. 11, 1998, and nine other museums, Feb. 14, 1998-Dec. 2001.

2000-2006

2000

Documentary film, Half Past Autumn, produced by HBO.

Book: A Star for Noon.

2002

Inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum in Oklahoma City and received the Jackie Robinson Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.

2003

Book: Sun Stalker.

2004

Gordon Parks Center for Culture and Diversity founded at Fort Scott Community College.

First “Gordon Parks Celebration” held October 6-9 in Fort Scott. Parks attends the event.

2005

Book: A Hungry Heat: A Memoir (autobiography).

Book: Eyes With Winged Thoughts.

William Allen White Award for journalistic merit given by the University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. Gordon cannot accept the award in person so a film crew comes to him. Conducted by CBS’s Byron Pitts, itis his last interview.

2006

Death New York City, March 7

Burial Fort Scott Evergreen Cemetery, March 16