Review: Gordon Parks’ “Segregation Story” on exhibit at the High Museum of Art

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Twelve of the over 40 photographs that comprise “Gordon Parks: Segregation Story“, had never been shown publicly until they went on exhibit last fall at Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, an acquisition that has significantly strengthened the museum’s collection of Civil Rights photography.

Park’s compelling imagery beautifully captures and conveys the pain, strife and then-unprecedented strength of the African American people, as they unwittingly faced what would become the historic dawn of a new day for racial equality and civil rights.

The series, which features every-day people simply living their lives during a time of racial intolerance, inequality and oppression, was first published in 1956 by Life Magazine, as a part of a two-article series detailing segregation in Mobile, Alabama.

In light of recently racially-charged current events, i.e. the continued aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, MO, the chokehold death of Eric Garner by the NYPD in New York City and the police shooting of an unarmed naked man in Atlanta this March, the timing of the exhibit is hauntingly apropos.

Parks’ powerful shots lend an otherwise foreign perspective to non-minorities, paving the way for a deeper understanding of the African American plight during the 1940s and ’50s. The photo essay stirred up a good deal of emotion in me, as it allowed me to look at segregation from an empathetic perspective – through the eyes of those persecuted. Parks’ ability to elicit an emotional response from myself – the viewer – through simplistic candid imagery is truly inspiring.

“Gordon Parks: Segregation Story” will be on exhibit at the High through June 17th. Exhibit admission tickets can be purchased online via the museum’s website.

Museum Buff? One-Year Dual or Family Memberships are on sale for $65 (usually $95) through Groupon for a limited time. Click here for details.

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