(Extensions of Remarks - December 09, 2003)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E2495-E2496]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                         HON. CHARLES B. RANGEL

                              of new york

                    in the house of representatives

                        Monday, December 8, 2003

  Mr. RANGEL. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize one of this 
nation's most distinguished talents in commemoration of his birthday. 
As a renowned photographer, poet, author, filmmaker and composer, 
Gordon Parks has secured his place in American society as a true 
Renaissance man of the arts. Born on November 30, 1912 in Kansas, Mr. 
Parks grew up the youngest of fifteen children in an environment 
stricken by poverty and racism. With the guidance of his loving, 
inspiring parents, he persevered despite his circumstances.
  Gordon Parks began his photographic journey at the age of 25, when he 
bought his first camera, affectionately referred to as his ``weapon 
against poverty and racism.'' This simple instrument did just that, 
allowing him to break the constraints of discrimination and rise to 
greatness as an artist. In 1941, Mr. Parks became the first 
photographer to receive a fellowship from the Julius Rosenwald 
Foundation and the following year, he was commissioned by the Farm 
Security Administration to create a visual record of the lives of 
America's poor in urban and rural communities. During this project, he 
captured one of his most popular, compelling photographs, American 
Gothic, the image of Ella Watson standing in front of the American 
flag, holding a broom.
  He moved on to become the first Black photographer to work at both 
Life and Vogue Magazines where he coined his unique style of focusing a 
series on one person to convey a story of humanity. Aside from 
chronicling the intense emotions of America's poorest, the civil rights 
movement and the surge of Black Nationalism, Mr. Parks' photographic 
repertoire also featured images of leading societal figures such as 
Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Ingrid Bergman, Barbara Streisand, 
Mohammed Ali, and Marcel Duchamp.
  Gordon Parks tried his hand in cinema, making eleven films, including 
``The Learning Tree'', based on his autobiographical novel, and the 
1971 film, ``Shaft''. Mr. Parks has also published twelve books, three 
about his life, and several are collections of poetry and photography. 
Musically inclined, Gordon Parks also composed a number of sonatas, 
concertos, a symphony and a ballet, all of which have been performed 
  Mr. Parks has also received a number of awards for his outstanding 
contributions, including: Photographer of the Year from the American 
Society of Magazine Photographers (1960 and 1985), induction into The 
Black Film Makers Hall of Fame (1973), induction into the NAACP Hall of 
Fame (1984), Governor's Medal of Honor from the State of Kansas (1985), 
and honorary degrees from thirteen separate academic institutions.
  Gordon Parks now resides in New York City and continues to enjoy the 
recognition earned

[[Page E2496]]

by his rich legacy as the premier photojournalist and creative mind of 
his time.