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Voices in the Mirror

Posted Apr 12 2006

While Parks is known as a documentarian, author, filmmaker, and unparalleled photographer, his own life is as interesting as any of his subjects.

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While Parks is known as a documentarian, author, filmmaker, and unparalleled photographer, his own life is as interesting as any of his subjects. From a destitute life in Kansas, to working in a brothel, to extended stints abroad, Parks' quest to document those on society's fringes is a tale in and of itself, and he does a good job of doing exactly that here. As the first African-American photographer working for Life magazine, he was often able to gain entry into places White journalists could hardly venture to, including riding shotgun with the Black Panther Party, interviewing Elijah Muhammad, and moving through Brazil's worst favelas. While he recognizes that he was biased, he also gave a relatively fair account of those lives he documented, placing their lives in the context of their experiences.

Beyond the challenges and joys of his work, Parks also details intimacy of his personal life, including multiple marriages and the death of his son. While most people who've even heard of Parks know him for his film Shaft, he's an American icon that more people should know beyond his creation of icons. BPP 282-301

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