Saturday, February 10, 2007

Remembering Gordon Parks

Hutchinson is participating in "Kansas Reads," where the entire state is reading Gordon Parks' book, "The Learning Tree." There will be a number of activities related to it and today was one of them.

Dr. John E. Tidwell of the University of Kansas spoke this morning at HCC about Kansas native, Gordon Parks.

Parks had a career that stretched across multiple disciplines. He was a movie maker, a photographer, a writer and more. As Tidwell said today, Gordon Parks was a man of many "firsts."

He also showed a brief interview Parks gave when the University of Kansas gave him an honorary degree. It was wonderful to hear Parks himself to speak about his life. It's obvious his mother was critical in his development.

Gordon Parks has been a "fixture" since I've lived here, although I never met him. Years ago I attended the funeral of a local woman, Barbara Pierce, who was one of the people who started the Dillon Lecture Series. Parks had spoken at one of the first lectures and they had become friends.

Saddened by her death, Parks had written a poem to be read at her funeral. I remember thinking that we should all strive to live life in a way such that Gordon Parks writes a poem for your funeral. Of course, he's gone now, too, but the sentiment remains. It's a good goal - to live in a way that a person of that stature mourns your passing from this world.