Woman in Iconic Gordon Parks Photo Honored

Photo captured the casual nature of Jim Crow era segregation

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joanne wilson gordon parksAre you familiar with photographer Gordon Parks? If so, you must have seen his iconic photo of Joanne Wilson in Jim Crow-era Alabama.

Parks’ striking photo captures Wilson and her niece, Shirley Diane Kirksey, standing underneath a neon movie theater sign, which points to the establishment’s “COLORED ENTRANCE.” The photo was taken in 1956.

The Gordon Parks Foundation last week honored Wilson with a color print of the photo, during its annual awards dinner at New York City’s Plaza Hotel, the New York Times reports.

“I wasn’t going in,” Mrs. Wilson told the Times. “I didn’t want to take my niece through the back entrance. She smelled popcorn and wanted some. All I could think was where I could go to get her popcorn.”

Click to see the iconic photo and more of Parks’ work.

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  • Charles Micheaux

    Gordon Parks led a full life rich in grace, humility, observation and kindness and so much more. I never met a man more elegant and charming. A world-class and very fine
    gentleman…we all remember as Gordon Parks.