Choice of Weapons

Choice of Weapons

by Gordon Parks

The noted author/photographer recounts his life and the bitter struggle he has faced, since he was sixteen-years-old, against poverty and racial prejudice.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Art
  • Rating: 4.26
  • Pages: 288
  • Publish Date: August 1st 1986 by Minnesota Historical Society Press
  • Isbn10: 0873512022
  • Isbn13: 9780873512022

What People Think about "Choice of Weapons"

4.5 rounded up to 5 A review of a Gordon Parks' photographic exhibit was accompanied by a photo called "Drugstore Cowboys, Turner Valley, Canada." Taken in 1945, I marveled at it. Winter is just settling in and thus begins the journey of a lifetime lived in awareness of poverty. For all of his young adult years, he experiences poverty and all its violence, and winter is always the hardest on him, but ultimately he fights it all with his weapon of choice - a camera. This is a mavelous chronicle of the black experience in American from the 1920s through America's early years of World War II. The last episode Parks shares is his decision to chronicle the black pilots of World War II. So a book that started me thinking little had changed, ended with the realization that there has been progress.

Gorden Parks is a photographer in which he was the first black photographer to work for life magazine, he is a writer,composer, artist and filmmaker. So I think it was a natural follow from that that I should use my camera to speak for people who are unable to speak for themselves.

The tragedy is in realizing how much human potential was squandered by the hate and bigotry of this period in American history.

That Parks was able to find his way is a testament to his will and what he described as his mother's teaching.

Especially since he is a man with Minnesota roots, his story is a valuable one for Minneapolis residents to read. From the forward: "Activism implies that you tell one side to change people's minds, while the best art makes room for multiple interpretations. Activism tells you; art shows you." p8 - "Even on this first night, I had bad feeling for this man. It was the kind of feeling I had for the whites whose indignities had pushed me to the edge of violence, whose injustices toward me had created one emotional crisis after another, all because my skin was black. My mind shifted back to those mornings when I stood before the cracked mirror in our house and wondered why God had made me black, and I remembered the dream I once had of being white, with skin so flabby and loose that I attempted to pull it into shape, to make it fit, only to awaken and find myself clutching at my underwear. But even then I knew I couldn't go on feeling condemned because of my color. I would have to take my time from now on, and grow in the light of my own particular experience -- and accept the slowness of things that were meant to be slow." p220 - "I came to Washington, excited and eager, on a clear cold day in January. I realized, for the first time, that my fears had been generously fed by my own insecurity, that there was far more selfishness in my heart than I could comfortably live with.

Gordon Parks is the first African American to write and direct a Hollywood film. Gordon Parks was born in Kansas in 1912. He was poor but he didn't know it until his mother died and she arranged for him to go live with his sister in St. Paul, Minnesota when he was 16 year old. My grandparents grew up in the same Frogtown neighborhood in St. Paul that Gordon Parks lived in when he moved to Minnesota. I, myself have also lived in the Frogtown neighborhood and walked the same streets, even got married at a church there. My grandparents, were born of immigrants, and lived in the same Frogtown neighborhood all of their lives and Gordon Parks, transplanted from Kansas, struggled and moved and made a name for himself.

On a trip to California I finished the book I took with me (Four Fish)so wandered into a used bookstore while my friends were at work and picked this up off the sale shelf.

He is best remembered for his photo essays for Life Magazine and as the director of the 1971 film, Shaft. He was the first African-American to work at Life magazine, and the first to write, direct, and score a Hollywood film. In 1989, he composed and choreographed Martin, a ballet dedicated to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. Beginning in the 1960s, Parks branched out into literature, writing The Learning Tree (1963), several books of poetry illustrated with his own photographs, and three volumes of memoirs.In 1981, Parks turned to fiction with Shannon, a novel about Irish immigrants fighting their way up the social ladder in turbulent early 20th-century New York.