A Choice of Weapons

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By Gordon Parks

Gordon Parks (1912–2006)—photographer for Life magazine, writer, composer, artist, and filmmaker—was only 16 in 1928 when he moved from Kansas to St. Paul, Minnesota, after his mother's death. There, homeless and hungry, he began his fight to survive, to educate himself, and to "prove my worth."

Working as a janitor, railroad porter, musician, or basketball player in such places as St. Paul, Chicago, and New York, Parks struggled against poverty and racism. He taught himself photography with a secondhand camera, worked for black newspapers, and began to document the poverty among African Americans on Chicago's South Side. Then his photographic work brought him to Washington, D.C., as first a photographer with the federal Farm Security Administration and later a war correspondent during World War II.

This compelling autobiography, first published in 1966, tells how Parks managed to escape the poverty and bigotry around him, and launch his distinguished career, by choosing the weapons given him by "a mother who placed love, dignity, and hard work over hatred."


  • Paperback (2nd edition); English; 192 pages
  • Publication Date: January 15, 2010
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5 x 1.2 inches (W x L x D)
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