carol jackson & panelists

Gordon Parks panelists in Los Angeles

*Los Angeles – Black History Month is the annual celebration of the achievements and accomplishments by African Americans. People are celebrating all across the country with parades,concerts,workshops and other events.

Hundreds of people gathered in the Museum of African American Art on Saturday,February 9th to honor an American icon.Macy’s, The Gordon Parks Foundation and the American Black Film Festival celebrated the 100th birthday of American icon Gordon Parks.This was a special evening of conversations,as speakers discussed his influence on the world of photography,film and literature.

A humanitarian with a deep commitment to social justice,Gordon Parks was one of the seminal figures of twentieth century photography.From the early 1940’s until his death in 2006,Parks created a body of work that documents many of the most important aspects of American culture,with a focus on race relations,poverty,Civil Rights and urban life.In addition,Parks was a celebrated composer,author and filmmaker who interacted with many of the most prominent people of his era-from politicians and artists to celebrities and athletes. In 1969, Parks became the first African-American to write and direct a Hollywood feature film based on his bestselling novel “The Learning Tree.” This was followed in 1971 by the hugely successful motion picture “Shaft.”(source-Macy’s)

The Museum of African American Art served as the perfect venue to honor Mr.Parks legacy. Angelenos were able to discover,in some cases,re-discover with some arts,photos and other memorabilia commemorating LA Trailblazers in the fields of cinema,civil rights,music and politics.The exhibit “The 90 That Built LA” was the perfect way to frame this historic event. “The 90 That Built LA” exhibit on display thru March 7, 2013 at the Museum of African American Art on the 3rd Floor of Macy’s.

Guest enjoyed some light refreshments of wine courtesy of Esterlina Vineyards. Post and Beam Restaurant served a mini three course meal which consisted of pickled beet ricotta and mint crostini for the first course. The second course featured homemade sausage,stuffed green Italian olives. The final course consisted of hamhocks, collared greens and white cheddar cheese stuffed arancini.If that wasn’t enough,Chef Ryan Constanza topped it off with dessert of Lemon Olive Oil cake with strawberry compote.

Vanessa Burnett moderated Macy’s “In Conversation” with actor/director Eriq La Salle, American Black Film Festival CEO Jeff Friday,and Devan Baptiste.They had a spirited discussion about Gordon Parks legacy, his influences on their lives and how he continues to serve as an inspiration and influence to countless photographers, directors, filmmakers and many others. We were presented with an extra treat when Richard Roundtree, the star of “Shaft” was introduced and spoke fondly of Mr.Parks by sharing several personal stories so that members of the crowd could hear a first hand account of the genius of Mr. Parks.

The Macy’s located in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles was one of several select stores nationwide that held an event saluting Gordon Parks.In New York,CBS News Correspondent Michelle Miller moderated “In Conversation” with  director Kenny Leon, actors Omari Hardwick, Malik Yoba and actress Malinda Williams,on February 7th.

Macy’s helps strengthen communities by supporting local and national charities that make a difference in the lives of customers.Future events honoring Mr.Gordon Parks at select Macy’s stores can be found online at www.macys.com/celebrate.

The Gordon Parks Foundation permanently preserves the work of Gordon Parks, makes it available to the public through exhibitions,books,and electronic media and supports artistic and educational activities that advocate what Gordon Parks described as “the common search for a better life and a better world.” The Foundation is a division of the Meserve-Kunhardt Foundation. www.gordonparksfoundation.org

Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based music reviewer,writer and photographer.Contact him via: [email protected]