Newman University alumna Wilma Moore-Black ’92, traveled to Minneapolis, Minn., to honor a very historical fashion and documentary photographer from Kansas – Gordon Parks.
The event took place on Aug. 6 during the National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair Day. Moore-Black was invited by David Parks, the son of Gordon Parks, to speak at the Gordon Parks Tribute Newsmaker Lunch and Learn session at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Gordon Parks is a historical icon in the world of photography. Born in 1912, he grew up in Fort Scott, Kan., and picked up his first camera at a pawn shop. Parks used his camera to fight his way out of poverty during a time of segregation and extreme racism. He was the first African-American hired to work as a staff photographer for LIFE Magazine. His work often told stories of social inequalities in American culture.
Growing up in Kansas, Moore-Black looked up to Gordon Parks as an inspiring and talented person. “… and he’s handsome,” Moore-Black added. “It’s a learning experience to research and study Gordon Parks. He was so unbelievably motivated and self trained. He was an educator who excelled way beyond the meaning of self-directed learning. His life reflected a roadmap to build races among different lives and classes of people.”
Moore-Black continued, “He inspires young people to use their brains to break down barriers. I believe we should forever salute Gordon Parks for his Kansas character to overcome great adversaries and not succumbing to arrogance. He claimed his bittersweet roots in Kansas and struggled to make peace with Kansas. I think as we let Gordon Parks’ legend live on, then Kansas continues to make its peace with Gordon.”
“Being a Newman graduate, I learned about the importance of continuing education. It was a challenging effort taking my classes each evening after I left work at KAKE-TV, Channel 10. One of my desires was to be a professor. Now, as the associate director of the TRIO Communication Upward Bound program at Wichita State University, I have an opportunity to give back much that I’ve gained during my college experiences to high school students. I promote my friend ‘Cindy’s formula’ of H1B1, which means to help one, bring one along the way in making career choices and life,” Moore-Black said.
During her speech, she shared a list of unique resources about Gordon Parks found in the Special Collections and University Archives at Wichita State University Library, the museum in Fort Scott, and a featured profile with Charles McAfee on KMUW.
Of the many guests who attended the event was actor Louis Gossett Jr.
“I just stared at him when he arrived in the banquet room, and then we talked briefly as I pointed out the reserved table where he could sit,” Moore-Black said. “Mr. Gossett has been a lifelong supporter and friend of Mr. Gordon Parks.”
Moore-Black graduated with a degree in education from Kansas Newman College in 1992.