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Pittsburg State’s Axe Library and Humanities Kansas Spotlight Fort Scott, KS Native for Annual Speakers Series

Gordon Parks
Gordon Parks

Parks, a Black author, photographer, and filmmaker born into poverty and segregation in 1912, would go on to become known on a national scale for his documentation of American life and culture.

Later this month, in collaboration with Humanities Kansas, Pittsburg State’s Axe Library will hold a special presentation of a Fort Scott native who wrote and directed the original version of the movie, Shaft.

KRPS’s Fred Fletcher-Fierro has more.

Gordon Roger Alexander Buchanan Parks, also known simply as Gordon Parks, was the youngest of 15 children born to Andrew Jackson Parks and Sarah Ross in 1912 in Fort Scott.

He would go on to lead a remarkable and inspirational life and career as a photographer for Time Magazine, also writing and directing several films including the 1971 crime action thriller Shaft.

Archivist and Special Collections Curator at Pittsburg State, Sara DeCaro is helping host the presentation and says Parks had a multi-layered professional life.

“He just has a remarkable perspective and it's so, he sees so many things. I know that he did some fashion photography when he first started out and so he has this eye for that, but later on, he got very well known for taking photographs of Mohammed Ali. He did a whole series of photographs in Harlem. And this was getting close to the Civil Rights era.”

Learning from Gordon Parks” is part of Humanities Kansas's Speakers Bureau and “21st Century Civics,” series.

The lecture is being lead by artist and freelance photographer Ann Dean of Lawrence. It's a part of this year's DeGruson Memorial Lecture Series at Pittsburg State.

It takes place Thursday October 19 at 7 pm and is open to the public.

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Since 2017 Fred Fletcher-Fierro has driven up Highway 171 through thunderstorms, downpours, snow, and ice storms to host KRPS’s Morning Edition. He’s also a daily reporter for the station, covering city government, elections, public safety, arts, entertainment, culture, sports and more. Fred has also spearheaded and overseen a sea change in programming for KRPS from a legacy classical station to one that airs a balance of classical, news, jazz, and cultural programming that better reflects the diverse audience of the Four States. For over two months in the fall of 2022 he worked remotely with NPR staff to relaunch to an NPR style news and information website.