"Separate But Equal"
“Photography is still one of the most effective ways to bring about social change. It remains a powerful medium that is capable of raising awareness of worldwide issues.” – an excerpt from Mae Goodrich’s website
Part of our mission at The Gordon Parks Foundation is to encourage and support students interested in Gordon Parks' work. Mae Goodrich, a high school student from Saint Paul, Minnesota, created a website about Parks as part of the Minnesota State History Day competition earlier this year. Her project won first place in its category, qualifying her for the national contest. When confronted with the high travel expenses to attend the National History Day competition in Washington, D.C., Miss Goodrich reached out to The Gordon Parks Foundation for assistance. The foundation was happy to offer her a grant to support her efforts, which enabled her to travel to Washington, D.C. to partake in the contest.
Mae’s project focuses mainly on Gordon Parks’ depiction of segregation in the South during the Jim Crow era. In response to the Montgomery bus boycotts, Life magazine assigned Parks to document families living under segregation in Alabama in 1956. By blending together letters to the editor from Life Magazine, photographs by Parks, and quotes from scholars and Parks himself, Miss Goodrich creates an immersive, educational viewing experience that communicates the impact that Gordon Parks had on the portrayal of segregation in the media. As she states rather elegantly in her introduction, “His photographs supported the Civil Rights Movement by portraying blacks as capable, intelligent people rather than agitators or victims. Parks’ humanistic representation of African Americans expanded the range of images available to the public about the everyday inequities blacks faced, which led to a more empathetic understanding and greater acceptance of them.”
We are glad to see a new generation inspired by the work of Gordon Parks, and have included a link to her website below for those interested in viewing the culmination of her hard work.