One of the world’s most prolific photographers’ collections will now be housed at one of the top historically Black colleges and universities. Almost two decades after his transition, 252 of the artist’s most prized images will now be on display at the institution that gave him his start.
The Gordon Parks Legacy Collection will be housed in Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and available to students and faculty for classwork projects, research assignments, exhibitions and public programs.
Received from the Gordon Parks Foundation as a combination purchase and gift, the acquisition will be celebrated at its annual awards dinner in New York City on May 19.
Having the collection at Howard University is a full-circle moment. Gordon Parks, who died in 2006, started his career in Washington D.C., shooting events on the campus and documenting the lives of its students. Eighty years later, a collection of his work as a documentarian of Black life will live in the archives of the prestigious institution.
Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, the president of Howard University, shared his excitement about the collection. “Howard University is proud to be the recipient of such an important collection of work by African American artist and photojournalist Gordon Parks,” said Frederick.
“Mr. Parks was a trailblazer whose documentation of the lived experiences of African Americans, especially during the civil rights period, inspired empathy, encouraged cultural and political criticism, and sparked activism among those who viewed his work,” the president continued.
“Having a collection of his timeless photographs in the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center will allow Howard University faculty, students, and visiting scholars to draw on his work and build upon his legacy of truth-telling and representation through the arts.”
Peter W. Kunhardt Jr., executive director of the Gordon Parks Foundation, said curators from the school and their office painstakingly went through thousands of images that the foundation owns to pull the 252 photographs making up the collection. These pictures were selected based on their educational value and how they will be used for the Howard community.
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