Gordon Parks and the power of photography

What Became of Harlem’s Fontenelle Family? – NYTimes lens blog

Gordon Parks’s Harlem Family Revisited
By JOHN EDWIN MASON and JESSE NEWMAN

In March 1968, Gordon Parks published a portrait of an African-American child with disheveled clothes in Life magazine. His lips were swollen and cracked from eating plaster, in a futile attempt to ward off hunger. His eyes were plaintive and haunting.

Richard Fontenelle was too young to understand, but he and his family became the faces of urban poverty for millions of Americans. The photo essay Mr. Parks produced — “A Harlem Family,” which is now on exhibit at the Studio Museum in Harlem — changed Mr. Fontenelle’s life, and the lives of every member of his family, forever. It sparked in him a desire to succeed, and a lifelong friendship with Mr. Parks. read more 

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You can view the original layout in the online version of LIFE magazine, March 8, 1968. It is quite powerful to see the original context in the magazine with the layout, other articles, other photographs, and advertising.

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