« Segregation Story » by Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks, a black man living in New York City, went to Alabama on a mission for two weeks, where he was threatened and pursued by a white supremacist group.

Mr. and Mrs. Albert Thornton, Mobile, Alabama, 1956 – ©Gordon Parks

He and his images escaped, and when the 12-page photo essay was published in the September 1956 issue of LIFE magazine with Robert Wallace’s article “The Restraints: Open and Hidden”, LIFE readers were able to take a fresh look at the civil rights movement.

Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956 – ©Gordon Parks

Instead of photographing the protests in black and white, Gordon Parks focuses on a black family and photographs them in colors.

The 26 images in the original series show the Thornton family busy with everyday tasks.
The banal nature of these activities was crucial, as it allowed spectators to identify with the Thorntons.

Department Store, Mobile, Alabama, 1956 ©Gordon Parks

As a journalist, Gordon Parks’ life and work were closely linked to the social changes that took place in America over the past century and, as such, were of great historical value.

Untitled, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956 ©Gordon Parks

You can get the book Gordon Parks: Segregation Story here