Arts

Gordon Parks’ Photographs Tell A ‘Segregation Story’ At The High

Outside Looking In, Mobile, Alabama, 1956.
Credit Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation.
Audio version of this story here.

This week the New York Times published an article about a photograph by Gordon Parks, the first African-American staff photographer for Life magazine in the early 1950s.

The photo in question shows a African American woman in a maid’s uniform sitting next to a well-dressed white woman. The photograph was taken in 1956 at the Atlanta airport. There is very little known about the picture other than those details, and the article is call to readers to submit any information they may have about the subjects of this mysterious photograph.

Incidentally, there is currently an exhibition of Gordon Parks’ work at the High Museum of Art. It’s called “Segregation Story.” It opened last fall.   

In 1956, Life sent Parks on assignment to Mobile, Alabama, to photograph the Thorntons, a black family dealing with the day to day restrictions of segregation. Parks used his camera to capture the effects of Jim Crow laws in the south, and now those photographs are on display at the High. We recently spoke with their photography curator, Brett Abbott.Broadcast version of the story that originally aired on November 21st, 2014.

More information on this exhibition may be found here

This story in its original form ran on Nov. 21, 2014.