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A man apart

gordon_parks1_000.jpg“I was just born with a need to explore every tool shop of my mind, and with long searching and hard work. I became devoted to my restlessness.” Gordon Parks 1912-2006

On March 7th we lost one of America’s finest photojournalists, Gordon Parks, he was 93. I greatly admire his photo works that captured the stories of the poverty and social needs of the poor forgotten classes of big cities. His use of b/w in urban settings really tell clear dramatic stories. He defied the odds by breaking down barriers of race, social status and proving that anything is possible with determination and hard work. Despite poverty, racism and social injustice he channeled his mind and hands into useful services for others he refused to get bitter or hateful towards the mistreatment he experianced as a ypung man. He could have easily resorted to gangs or vice that so many inner city youth fall prey to instead he worked hard even at mundane service jobs till he eventually got a camera from a pawn shop (for $7.50 legend has it) learned to use it and the rest is history. I’m sure that was one of the best investments in his life.

In my volunteer work I meet many people who have found themselves “down on their luck” for one reason or another and I understand the difficulty that comes with not having anything and the seemingly endless cycle to get out of it but there comes a time when you have to say ‘how can I be of use to others, what do I have that can make a difference however small. I don’t just want to think about myself’. Once you think outside of that box and you take a hold of your future, channel your mind and time into something you’ve set your self on that road. Talents need to be cultivated it really does no good to have a gift if you do not improve on it. I wonder how many times he walked by that shop before making that investment. He was not rolling in the dough I could have used that for food or cloths but instead he took that risk made the investment (and the expenses of the day for film and developing, there weren’t any photodrops back then, camera’s were a luxury item) he free-lanced till he got good enough to get jobs using it for fashion and later big name magazines like Life and eventually directing his own movies, writing books and music scores.

In everyone’s life there is a linchpin, that pivotal time in your life when you have a dream, aspiration or opportunity, the important thing is realizing it and capitalizing on it no matter how small it may seem. Getting the camera did not give him a free ticket to success but it gave him a stepping-stone to doing something more with his life. If he had failed to take that one step then would he still be remembered in this way today? I don’t think so.  
parks2.gifGordon Parker stands out to me for this reason, he was an iconic overcomer. Everything given to him would have legitimized a wasted life but he refused to accept that as his fate and made something better of it. If he could anyone can!

With this post I will launch this new topic here on my blog highlighting an individual every month that stands out as someone who overcame the odds in his/her life to achieve more with the hope that it will inspire others to do the same.

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Categories: Overcomers
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