The first story that Parks proposed to Life magazine was a piece on the gang wars that were consuming Harlem in the late 1940s. These Harlem photographs reflect Parks' ambition to depict Harlem's brutality by presenting Red Jackson, a young Harlem gang leader, along with his gang's members, in quiet, contemplative moments, as well as the intensity of street brawls. The photographs Parks shot were published in a photo essay, "Harlem Gang Leader", in Life's November 1, 1948 issue.