Gordon Parks, ca. 1927.
1929 - 1932
“Of course, I didn’t start photography until about 1939 and up until that time I had worked as a waiter on the railway, bartender and road gangs, played semi- professional basketball, semi- professional football, worked in a brick plant, you name it, you know, just about everything” (from 1964 Oral interview – here he states that it was 1939 that he saw the Panay gunboat reel)
“Well, actually, Jack Delano came to . . . whom I admired very much; a very good photographer — was in Chicago on the southside and on some sort of project. I can’t remember what it was. And he, too, saw some of my work. He was the one first who mentioned that if I got the Rosenwald Fellowship certainly they would be happy to have me down with the FSA. And I went around with Jack on several of his assignments; he took me around and naturally I was rather thrilled, for here was a photographer from FSA; and he was such a gentle and wonderful guy, and still is. And so that sort of set my sights and when the Rosenwald people asked me exactly what I wanted to do I said I would like to be with the FSA. I then boned up on it to find out exactly what was being done. And that was the initial interest.” (oral interview 1964)
“I took her into this woman’s office and there was the American flag and I stood her up with her mop hanging down with the American flag hanging down Grant Wood style and did this marvelous portrait, which Stryker thought it was just about the end. He said, “My God, this can’t be published, but it’s a start.” So it was published. I sneaked it out and published it in an old paper that used to be in Brooklyn. It was published in Brooklyn, you probably remember, what was it called? I forget, a Marshall Field paper, do you remember that one?” (Oral interview 1964)