About

In 1950, Gordon Parks undertook a story about school segregation for Life that brought him back to his hometown of Fort Scott, Kansas more than twenty years after he left as a teenager. This was one of the earliest civil rights assignments undertaken by Parks and it inspired him to revisit  his own childhood and search for his classmates from the all-black Plaza School. While few of his classmates remained in Fort Scott, many of them took diverse paths following the trails of the Great Migration to cities like Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, and St. Louis. Parks wrote an essay titled "Back to Fort Scott" about his return home and his memories of his segregated childhood which, along with his pictures, were set to be published a Life cover story but were twice bumped by more newsworthy events. In the end, the essay and photographs were forever shelved.