Despite these setbacks, the family had no misgivings about appearing in the piece. “Everyone was very impressed with the article,” Mr. Wilson said. “They felt that they had made a friend. Gordon had become part of the family.” After the essay was published, Mr. Parks would periodically check in with Mrs. Wilson’s parents.
By demonstrating the fullness and complexity of its subjects’ existence, the photo essay could have helped the magazine’s white readers to make connections to their own lives, an empathetic response that Mr. Parks believed was vital to challenging stereotypes and misconceptions about people they saw as fundamentally different from themselves.
Gordon Parks' Classic Photo Essay, 'Harlem Gang Leader'
A Gordon Parks photo from 1956 raises tantalizing questions about race and class in the Jim Crow South. Now, Lens is asking readers to help uncover the identities of the people in the picture.