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Word Count: 640
At 16 Parks found himself homeless and did everything he could do make money from waiting tables to playing piano in a brothel to mopping floors As Parks tells it his first foray into photography came after he found a magazine left behind by a passenger on a train A portfolio inside the magazine documenting the terrible living conditions of migrant workers inspired Parks to buy his first camera a Voightlander Brilliant at a pawnshop in Seattle I bought what was to become my weapon against poverty and racism he says And what a weapon it became In 1941 Parks became the first photographer to receive a fellowship from the Julius Rosenwald Foundation and chose to work with Roy Stryker at the photography section of the Farm Security Administration FSA a government agency set up to call attention to the plight of the needy during the Depression It was at the FSA in Washington DC where Parks took his first professional photograph and signature image American Gothic Recalls Parks It happened in one of the governments most sacred strongholds I set up my camera for my first professional photograph and asked Ella Watson to stand before the American flag hanging from floor to ceiling placed the mop in her one hand a broom in the other then instructed her to look into the lens From that point on Parks was destined to do great things and take great photographs He worked tirelessly and singlemindedly and from the Forties through the Seventies he covered the major themes of each decade for LIFE magazine social injustice overwhelming poverty in the US as well as in Brazil and Portugal gang violence the civil rights movement and segregation in the Deep South Though Parkss awareness of race racism and hatred is a constant thread found through much of his work this theme was juxtaposed early on with his expanding talent as a fashion photographer for Vogue where
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