Single Person Impact

by Alexis Vega Velez

Prof. Nicolaou


Traduccion en espanol PDF:


History has always documented the positives and negatives of multiple events. In society today, many are coming together to take a stand for what is right. Thanks to individuals, like Gordon Parks, we were able to follow the events in their untainted truth. Gordon Parks used multiple opportunities in his life to get the hard truth out into the world and succeeded doing so. Now others are being influenced by his works because of the truth, his drive and the confidence it creates in others.

Gordon Parks, Self-Portrait, 1941, gelatin silver print. Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation

Being a black male thrown out his house at fifteen years old, Gordon Parks found his way in life with the idea that him and his camera can be the voice for the under dogs. Gordon stated, “I saw that the camera could be a weapon against poverty, against racism, against all sorts of social wrongs. I knew at that point I had to have a camera.” At the age of twenty-five, he was influenced by photography of migrant workers and in that moment the camera became an extension of his eyes, his arms and himself. This relates to the world today, as we use social media as an extension to come together worldwide to stand up for what we believe in. When the march occurred, police equipped themselves with tear gas and guns with rubber bullets where as we chose to equip ourselves with the power of photography and video. Like Gordon Parks, we wanted to be able to show exactly what is going on in the world to those that chose to ignore the elephant in the room. The common goal, between him and now, is not to take pretty pictures but to speak to society about current events.

Gordon Parks. 1963. Untitled, Harlem, New York. 3/3/2021.

There is a lot of similarities between the photographs that were taken by Gordon Parks and the photographers being displayed today. In the photograph to your left, you will see a line of black men protesting with the first man holding a sign that says, “WE ARE LIVING IN A POLICE STATE.” This man is clearly expressing that police are taking over. Analyzing his facial expression, it is clear that the overtaking of police personnel is no justice for all. “Police force is a relatively modern invention, sparked by changing notions of public order, driven in turn by economic and politics,” Published by the New York Times.  In plain English, we trusted police to take care of our neighborhoods but they are now taking advantage of their duty. Thanks to Gordon Parks, we are not afraid to show and share the truth as our eyes see it.

Lucy Morantz. Untitled, 2020. 3/3/2021.

In relation to the Gordon Parks picture to present day events, the Black Lives Matter march was a tsunami of hundreds of people from every race, gender and age. Signs all wording the ideas of what the people of this world want. Every day, the influence of Gordon Parks increases. Many look up to his work for encouragement to shoot and share insight of anything and everything individuals feel strongly about. Somewhere in the world someone can relate.  Gordon Parks was not only a self-taught photographer/photojournalist. He was also a composer, author and filmmaker. This influenced people of all professions to pursue their passions whether or not it is intertwined with their profession.



Black History Month: Influence of Photographer Gordon Parks (

Gordon Parks – Photography, Movie & Quotes – Biography

Gordon Parks 1964: Oral History Interview.: EBSCOhost (

Gordon Parks: Seeing Color in Black and White | Magazine | MoMA

The History of Police in America and the First Force | Time

GORDON PARKS: HALF AND THE WHOLE – Exhibitions – The Gordon Parks Foundation