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What a legacy he left behind

Posted Thursday, October 23, 2008, at 9:44 PM

Although I write for The Tribune, I am a photographer at heart. I find a great passion in capturing feelings, emotions, and action with a camera for the rest of the world to enjoy until the end of time.

That being said, I am shamed with myself for growing up in the Southeast Kansas area striving to be a photographer and not knowing who Gordon Parks was.

It was not until I did a story about the Gordon Parks legacy being named a finalist to the 8 Wonders of Kansas Art that I found out who Parks was and what he was about. Needless to say I was amazed.

I do not really know why, but I have been fascinated with those who fought for civil rights. I love to see how many different ways one person can fight the overwhelming majority's perception of reality.

I am floored by his courage to go at the world the way that he did. I am touched by the way he attributes everything to the way that his mother raised him. I am in awe of the way that he respected mankind at any cost.

While I was in high school my English class did a project in which we were to find somebody who would be considered a Renaissance Man. I don't remember who I chose for my paper, but knowing what I do now, Mr. Parks would certainly get my vote. After all, not only was Parks a photographer, but he was a film director, author, poet, composer, musician and above all a father.

Since my encounter with the legacy that is Gordon Parks, I have had the amazing opportunity to meet some of his family, including his son David, daughter Toni, and grandson Alain.

Hearing those three people talk about their father or the old man or papi made me realize just what an influence Parks had on the lives of people. Through his work, he has changed the lives of countless people, while still remaining true to his morals.

Those who live in the area and are still unaware of the legacy of Gordon Parks outside the signs on the side of the road, I encourage you to take a trip to the Gordon Parks Center for Culture and Diversity at FSCC and the Sarah and Andrew Parks Exhibit at Mercy Health Center. While you're at it, do the legacy a favor and bring a friend with you.

Gordon Parks was much more than an artist and a father. In my mind, Gordon Parks is the epitome of a gentleman.

Thank you to all those who worked so hard to rebuild the legacy of Gordon Parks and congratulation for having the Gordon Parks legacy recognized as one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas Art.

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