Boston Museum shows never run Life photos of black life in 1950s US

Time's photo from what it is like to be black collectionIn honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston is exhibiting a striking collection of Gordon Parks photographs that Life commissioned, but never ran. In its article What It Was Like to Be Black in 1950s America Slate writer Jordan G. Teicher tells us:

Gordon Parks hadn’t been to his hometown, Fort Scott, Kansas, in more than 20 years when he returned there in 1950 as a photojournalist on assignment for Life magazine. Growing up as the youngest of 15 children, Parks attended the Plaza School, an all-black grade school in the heavily segregated town. Now, as the first black man hired full-time by the magazine, Parks wanted to find and photograph all 11 of his classmates from grade school as a way of measuring the impact of school segregation. The photo essay he created, which was never published, is on display at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in the exhibition, “Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott,” beginning Jan. 17.

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