Honoring Gordon Parks with Kim Coles and Eriq LaSalle

Last night I had the honor of being a guest at an event celebrating the career, work and vision of American icon Gordon Parks.  Hosted by Macy’s in partnership with the Gordon Parks Foundation, the event brought together hundreds of people from all over the Bay Area including Mayor Willie Brown, Renel Brooks-Moon and Dana King, to learn about Gordon Parks’ work through an insightful discussion with actors Kim Coles and Eriq LaSalle.

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I thought Macy’s did a beautiful job of selecting this visionary individual to feature in celebration of Black History Month.  ”Exemplary Americans like Gordon Parks serve to inspire generations with a rich legacy of achievement that cross boundaries and continue to inform and inspire the work of those who follow in their footsteps.  From photography to film and music, Gordon Parks is the perfect American hero to honor during Black History Month celebrations at Macy’s,” said Dineen Garcia, Macy’s vice-president of Diversity Strategies.

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Going into the event, I admittedly knew very little about Gordon Parks’ work, but my eyes and mind were opened to the prominent role he played in shaping black identity in film and art during us 60-year career as a composer, author, photographer and filmmaker.  As a person in media, I was really inspired by Gordon Parks’ motive to create the portrayal of African Americans he wanted to see himself.

Think about it.

How many films are out there that truly represent you as a person of color and do not poke fun at or stereotype us as a people?  Not that many.  In the 60′s and 70′s Gordon Parks was not happy with the depictions he was seeing of African Americans in film and television and so with his films he sought out to create the images of his people that he wanted to see.

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“Whatever your gift is, that is what Gordon Parks’ legacy speaks to,” explained Eriq LaSalle.  ”Be a maverick and carver your own path.  Regardless of your profession and what your dreams are, create your own opportunities. Our community needs him now more than ever.”

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Special thanks to Kim Coles for inviting me to the event and being a generally awesome human being in every way!

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