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Gordon Parks 100th Birthday

Ella Watson poses

American Gothic, Gordon Parks for the FSA

Gordon Parks would be 100 years old today.  He left a legacy of films like Shaft, poetry, books and his brilliant photographs from his work with the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in the 40s, Life magazine, Vogue and others.  He chronicled life in Harlem, personalities like Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Barbra Streisand and Marilyn Monroe.  But it's one of his earliest photos for the FSA American Gothic, Washington, D.C., that got its name from the Grant Wood painting, American Gothic. This  photo, circa 1941, depicts Ella Watson, an FSA cleaning woman as she poses,in front of an American flag hanging on the wall, with a broom in one hand and a mop in the other. This was Park's reaction to the racism he encountered in Washington D.C. 

He later went on to follow Watson's daily life in a photographic essay but it's this photo that still stirs hearts and minds.


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