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Book Title: Choice of Weapons|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 29.46 MB
City - Country: No data
The author of the book: Gordon Parks
Edition: Minnesota Historical Society Press
Date of issue: August 1st 1986
ISBN 13: 9780873512022
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Reader ratings: 5.9
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4.5 rounded up to 5
A review of a Gordon Parks' photographic exhibit was accompanied by a photo called "Drugstore Cowboys, Turner Valley, Canada." Taken in 1945, I marveled at it. That a black man was allowed to take this photo, has to this day baffled me. Whatever the circumstances, his autobiography ends several years before this photo was taken. But I was captivated. The photo held me for for about five minutes and has never left the foggy edges of my brain. When I learned that this book was selected as a Minneapolis One Book One Read selection, I had to read it. And it did not let me down.
I started this on the evening of the first acculative snow here in the Minneapolis area. The next morning, there was palpable tension in the air as I commuted by light rail to downtown. I was cross, people were grumpy, a couple in a yelling match graced the Nicollet mall. How little things have changed, I thought. Then I realized that this was the pulse of an urban area soon to be under the siege of winter's brutal realities. And for those who largely live their lives on the streets, or from paycheck to paycheck, or in drafty houses there's already been a month of mostly below normal temperatures and it was only the first week of November and the snow from the night before wasn't melting quickly despite the sunshine.
Winter is rarely kind to the poor and it was not kind to Gordon Parks. When he was 16 his mother died, and he was sent from Missouri to live with his sister in St. Paul. After a dispute with his brother-in-law he finds himself homeless and on the streets. Winter is just settling in and thus begins the journey of a lifetime lived in awareness of poverty. For all of his young adult years, he experiences poverty and all its violence, and winter is always the hardest on him, but ultimately he fights it all with his weapon of choice - a camera.
This is a mavelous chronicle of the black experience in American from the 1920s through America's early years of World War II. Parks lived not only in Mineapolis/St. Paul but in Chicago's Southside, Harlem and Washington, D. C. where Jim Crow laws still existed. However the most discriminatory experience he encounters is in Daytona Beach, in which a professor assigned to escort him is humiliated by gas station attendants and local sheriffs.
The last episode Parks shares is his decision to chronicle the black pilots of World War II. As they deploy for Europe, he is denied the opportunity to join them.
So a book that started me thinking little had changed, ended with the realization that there has been progress. The poverty still exists, though racial segregation is no longer legal.
But there is still institutionalized injustice in this country. Al Franken, Minnesota's current senator wrote an opinion piece on the Huff Post this week mentioning that in over 30 states people can still legally lose their jobs for being gay. That's right. People can be fired for for their sexual orientation. And, John Boehner, republican Speaker of the House, may not allow legislation stopping this practice to come up for a vote in the House of Representatives. Arghh....Boehner's capitalized title of respect is currently not deserved. And, that anger I have just expressed is typical of the anger Parks constatntly dealt with in his lifetime and he lived to be 94. Read the book and you'll see how amazing it is that he not only survived, but achieved artistic greatness.
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Read information about the authorGordon Parks was a groundbreaking American photographer, musician, poet, novelist, journalist, activist and film director. He is best remembered for his photo essays for Life Magazine and as the director of the 1971 film, Shaft.
Parks is remembered for his activism, filmmaking, photography, and writings. He was the first African-American to work at Life magazine, and the first to write, direct, and score a Hollywood film. He was profiled in the 1967 documentary "Weapons of Gordon Parks" by American filmmaker Warren Forma. Parks was also a campaigner for civil rights; subject of film and print profiles, notably Half Past Autumn in 2000; and had a gallery exhibit of his photo-related, abstract oil paintings in 1981. He was also a co-founder of Essence magazine, and one of the early contributors to the "blaxploitation" genre.
Parks also performed as a jazz pianist. His first job was as a piano player in a brothel. His song "No Love," composed in another brothel, was performed over a national radio broadcast by Larry Funk and his orchestra in the early 30s. He composed Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (1953) at the encouragement of black American conductor Dean Dixon and his wife, pianist Vivian and with the help of composer Henry Brant. In 1989, he composed and choreographed Martin, a ballet dedicated to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.
Beginning in the 1960s, Parks branched out into literature, writing The Learning Tree (1963), several books of poetry illustrated with his own photographs, and three volumes of memoirs.In 1981, Parks turned to fiction with Shannon, a novel about Irish immigrants fighting their way up the social ladder in turbulent early 20th-century New York. Parks' writing accomplishments include novels, poetry, autobiography, and non-fiction including photographic instructional manuals and filmmaking books. Parks also wrote a poem called "The Funeral".
Parks received over 20 honorary doctorates in his lifetime. He died of cancer at the age of 93.
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