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Voices in the Mirror

An Autobiography

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Paperback published by Three Rivers Press (Crown Publishing Group)

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About This Book

Alone after his mother’s death, homeless in a Minnesota winter, young Gordon struggled to stay in school, working at menial jobs and riding streetcars all night to escape the cold. Refusing to succumb to despair, he instead transformed his anger at poverty and racism into a creative force and went on to break down one barrier after another. He was the first black photographer at Vogue and Life, and the first black screenwriter and director in Hollywood, at the helm of such projects as the award-winning Shaft. And his novel, The Learning Tree, has sold more than a quarter of a million copies.

Spanning the major events of five decades, Voices in the Mirror takes readers from Minnesota and Washington, D.C., to the glamour of Paris and the ghettos of Rio and Harlem. His intimate portrayals of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini; of the Muslim and African American icons Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad and Muhammad Ali; of the young militants of the civil rights and black power movements; and of the tragic experiences of the less famous, like the Brazilian youngster Flavio, combine to form an unforgettable story.

Gordon Parks’s life is a metaphor for the courageous vision and extraordinary resilience of the African American community, while also serving as a testament to the spirit and generosity that are its hallmarks.

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Alone after his mother’s death, homeless in a Minnesota winter, young Gordon struggled to stay in school, working at menial jobs and riding streetcars all night to escape the cold. Refusing to succumb to despair, he instead transformed his anger at poverty and racism into a creative force and went on to break down one barrier after another. He was the first black photographer at Vogue and Life, and the first black screenwriter and director in Hollywood, at the helm of such projects as the award-winning Shaft. And his novel, The Learning Tree, has sold more than a quarter of a million copies.

Spanning the major events of five decades, Voices in the Mirror takes readers from Minnesota and Washington, D.C., to the glamour of Paris and the ghettos of Rio and Harlem. His intimate portrayals of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini; of the Muslim and African American icons Malcolm X, Elijah Muhammad and Muhammad Ali; of the young militants of the civil rights and black power movements; and of the tragic experiences of the less famous, like the Brazilian youngster Flavio, combine to form an unforgettable story.

Gordon Parks’s life is a metaphor for the courageous vision and extraordinary resilience of the African American community, while also serving as a testament to the spirit and generosity that are its hallmarks.

Product Details
Paperback (464 pages)
Published: September 20, 2005
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Imprint: Three Rivers Press
ISBN: 9780767922128
Other books byGordon Parks
  • A Hungry Heart

    A Hungry Heart
    A Memoir
    Gordon Parks, acclaimed photographer, filmmaker, composer, and author of fiction and nonfiction, has participated in, been witness to, and documented many of the major events in the twentieth and the twenty-first centuries. Born in Fort Scott, Kansas, on November 30, 1912, he left home at age fifteen when his mother passed away. For the next twelve years, he lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota, working as a piano player, bus boy, Civilian Conservation Corpsman, and professional basketball player before taking up photography in the late 1930s and moving to Chicago. He was awarded the first Julius Rosenwald Fellowship in photography in 1942 and chose to work with Roy Stryker at the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in Washington, D.C. During World War II, he was an Office of War Information (OWI) correspondent. He photographed fashion for Vogue and Glamour before joining the staff of Life in 1949 and remained a photojournalist for the magazine until 1969. He also became famous in the late 1960s for his stories on Black revolutionaries, later incorporated into his book Born Black. He was a founder and editorial director of Essence magazine from 1970 to 1973. His film career began in 1961 when he wrote and directed a documentary, Flavio. He received an Emmy Award for another documentary, Diary of a Harlem Family, in 1968. He produced and directed Hollywood films including The Learning Tree, Shaft, Shaft's Big Score, The Super Cops, and Leadbelly. He is first and foremost a celebrated photojournalist and fine art photographer whose work, collected and exhibited worldwide, is emblematic of American culture. In A Hungry Heart, he reaches into the corridors of his memory and recounts the people and events that shaped him: from growing up poor on the Kansas prairie to withstanding the unbearably cold winters of Minnesota to living on the edge of starvation in Harlem during the Depression. He more than survived the challenges and crises of his life; he thrived and has become one of the most celebrated and diversely talented figures in American culture.

    The Learning Tree

    The Learning Tree
    The inner lives of a black family as they struggle to understand and accept the bitter challenge of their special world. "A fine novel . . ." --Boston Herald

    To Smile in Autumn

    To Smile in Autumn
    A Memoir
    Gordon Parks was born with, he says, “a stubborn need to be somebody.” Though Parks is remembered most notably as a photographer and filmmaker, on his enthralling climb to fame between 1944 and 1978 he was successful in many pursuits, including journalism, poetry, and music. It was not always an easy journey, but by thirty-six he had overcome many obstacles to become a photographer and writer forLifemagazine.To Smile in Autumnis a candid revelation of a man in the prime of his life and career. This autobiography, with a new foreword by Alexs Pate, is a testament to a person much attuned to the greater world and driven to leave his mark on it.

    A Choice of Weapons

    A Choice of Weapons
    Gordon Parks (1912-2006) -- the groundbreaking photographer, writer, composer, activist, and filmmaker -- was only sixteen in 1928 when he moved from Kansas to St. Paul, Minnesota, after his mother's death. There, homeless and hungry, he began his fight to survive, to educate himself, and to fulfil his potential dream. This compelling autobiography, first published in 1966, now back in print by popular demand and with a new foreword by Wing Young Huie, tells how Parks managed to escape the poverty and bigotry around him and to launch his distinguished career by choosing the weapons given him by "a mother who placed love, dignity, and hard work over hatred". Parks, the first African American to work at Life magazine and the first to write, direct, and score a Hollywood film, told an interviewer in 1999, "I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera."

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