The Segregation Portfolio

Gordon Parks was commissioned by Life magazine in 1957 to created a portrait of segregation in the South titled The Restraints: Open and Hidden. The experience was a harrowing one for Parks. He narrowly escaped an ambush by vigilantes with tar and feathers. After publication, the Causey Family, whom he chronicled for the story, had their home and belongings confiscated. Once the editors of Life heard of this development, they promptly flew to Alabama in an attempt to have the family’s belongings returned. It became clear that the mayor of the town would not give in, so Life relocated the family and gave them twenty-five thousand dollars.

The original Life story featured 26 color photographs. A number of these were printed later in Parks career, most in black and white, and exhibited nationally, including at the Corcoran Museum of Art. In 2012, The Gordon Parks Foundation discovered a cache of color transparencies, labeled with masking tape “Segregation Story.” The brilliance of this misplaced collection of color works led the Foundation to create a boxed set of archival pigment prints revisiting this historic story.