Gordon Parks (1912–2006)—the groundbreaking photographer, writer, composer, activist, and filmmaker—was only sixteen in 1928 when he moved from Kansas to St. Paul, Minnesota, after his mother’s death. There, homeless and hungry, he began his fight to survive, to educate himself, and to fulfill his potential dream.
This compelling autobiography, first published in 1966, now back in print by popular demand and with a new foreword by Wing Young Huie, tells how Parks managed to escape the poverty and bigotry around him and to launch his distinguished career by choosing the weapons given him by “a mother who placed love, dignity, and hard work over hatred.” Parks, the first African American to work at Life magazine and the first to write, direct, and score a Hollywood film, told an interviewer in 1999, “I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera.”
Book Discussion Guide by Hennepin County Library and One Minneapolis One Read Program
Read an excerpt from A Choice of Weapons
Gordon Parks, Collections Item of the Day
Also of interest: Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota