Black Powered

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston showcases powerful, never-before-seen images in rare Gordon Parks exhibit

MFAH showcases never-before-seen images in rare Gordon Parks exhibit

Gordon Parks: Stokely Carmichael and Black Power MFAH
 Untitled, Bronx, New York, 1967. Mary Charles Carmichael serving her children Lynette and Stokely at Lynette’s wedding dinner in the Bronx. Photo courtesy of and © The Gordon Parks Foundation
Gordon Parks: Stokely Carmichael and Black Power MFAH
Untitled, Los Angeles, California, 1966. Carmichael addresses the Watts crowd from a truck bed in Los Angeles.  Photo courtesy of and © The Gordon Parks Foundation
Gordon Parks: Stokely Carmichael and Black Power MFAH
Untitled, Atlanta, Georgia,1966. Carmichael at his desk at SNCC’s Atlanta headquarters. Photo courtesy of and © The Gordon Parks Foundation
Gordon Parks: Stokely Carmichael and Black Power MFAH
Gordon Parks: Stokely Carmichael and Black Power MFAH
Gordon Parks: Stokely Carmichael and Black Power MFAH

When Stokely Carmichael, chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, issued a call for Black power during a speech in Mississippi in 1966, it made national headlines, thanks in part to Gordon Parks's groundbreaking images.

Houstonians can see some of them this October, when “Gordon Parks: Stokely Carmichael and Black Power” opens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. On display will be the five images Parks took for the Life magazine profile about Carmichael's efforts in Mississippi along with with 50 additional photographs and contact sheets that have never been published or exhibited.

The exhibit, which opens October 16, will also incorporate footage from Carmichael's speeches. 

It's not the first time MFAH has presented works by Parks. The museum included Parks' famous 1942 image American Gothic in its 2020 “Soul of a Nation” exhibit. “Gordon Parks: Stokely Carmichael and Black Power” is presented in collaboration with the Gordon Parks Foundation, a press release notes.

By the time Parks met Stokely Carmichael in 1966, he was already a prominent photographer and chronicler of life across the United States and would be the first Black staff member of Life magazine. Carmichael (later Kwame Ture) had recently graduated from Howard University and was publishing pieces in Esquire and Look magazines, when he wasn't making headlines himself.

Throughout the fall of 1966 and into the spring of 1967, Parks would take more than 700 photographs of Carmichael. They included images of Carmichael addressing a gathering of Vietnam War protestors outside the United Nations headquarters in New York City, going door to door in Alabama to register Blacks to vote, and officiating his sister's wedding in the Bronx. 

"Parks is well known as one of America’s most important 20th-century photographers," noted Gary Tinterow, MFAH director, in a statement. "This exhibition will further illuminate his accomplishments as a writer and journalist, as well.”

---

“Gordon Parks: Stokely Carmichael and Black Power” will run October 16 through January 16, 2023 at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. For tickets and additional information, visit the MFAH website.