Originally published in 1971, Gordon Parks’s Born Black was the first book to unite his writing and his photography. It was also the first to provide a focused survey of Parks’s documentation of a crucial time for the civil rights and Black Power movements. Today, more than fifty years later, this reimagined, expanded edition of Born Black offers deeper insight into the series collected in it. The original publication featured nine articles commissioned by Life magazine from 1963 to 1970—some of the material never published before—supplemented with later commentary by Parks and presented as a personal account of the important moments in the history of the civil rights and Black Power movements. This new edition of Born Black includes the original text and images, as well as additional images from each of the nine series, facsimiles from the original publication, manuscripts and related correspondence, and reproductions of Life magazine spreads. Parks’s images and words are accompanied by essays from celebrated scholars Jelani Cobb and Nicole R. Fleetwood, the inaugural Gordon Parks Foundation Genevieve Young Fellow in Writing. The book is edited by Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr. and Michal Raz-Russo.
The series selected by Parks for Born Black—a rare glimpse inside San Quentin State Prison; extensive documentation of the Black Muslim movement and the Black Panthers; his commentaries on the deaths of civil rights leaders Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr.; intimate portrait studies of Stokely Carmichael, Muhammad Ali, and Eldridge Cleaver; and a narrative of the daily life of the impoverished Fontenelle family in Harlem—have come to define Parks’s legendary career as a photographer and activist. This expanded, in-depth volume of Born Black highlights the lasting legacy of these projects and their importance to our understanding of critical years in American history.
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