Gordon Parks: Segregation Story in Mobile, 1956
January 16 – December 31, 2021
Mobile Museum of Art brings the iconic photographs by Gordon Parks during the Jim Crow era back to the city where they were captured with the special exhibition, Gordon Parks: Segregation Story in Mobile, 1956.
This exhibition of photographs documents the everyday activities and rituals of one extended black family, the Thorntons, in Mobile and Shady Grove, Alabama, during segregation. The images were originally published in a 1956 photo essay by Parks, an assignment from Life magazine after the Montgomery bus boycotts, but have come to be known around the world for helping to inspire the Civil Rights movement.
In an essay accompanying the portfolio of photographs Segregation Story produced in 2012 by The Gordon Parks Foundation, noted American cultural historian and art critic Maurice Berger explains,
“These quiet, compelling photographs elicit a reaction that Parks believed was critical to undoing racial prejudice: empathy. Throughout his career, he endeavored to help viewers, white and black, understand and share the feelings of others. It was with this goal in mind that he set out to document the lives of the Thornton family, creating images meant to alter the way Americans viewed one another and, ultimately, themselves.”
These photographs are lent to MMofA by the Gordon Parks Foundation. Opening day will be free to the public, but due to COVID-19 a reception and other programming in various disciplines—film, poetry, visual arts and civil rights history—will be held at a later date.
Exhibition generously underwritten by Mobile County Commissioner, Merceria Ludgood
Title 1 school program support for the project from the Altmayer Foundation
Community Programming support by Mobile City Council members: Joel Daves (District 5), Gina Gregory (District 7), Bess Rich (District 6), Frederick D. Richardson, Jr. (District 1), C.J. Small (District 3), and John C. Williams (District 4). Mr. Williams will support a lecture by Dr. John Edwin Mason, author of an upcoming book on Gordon Parks.