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Parks filming The Learning Tree, 1968.

Encouraged by acclaimed film director and friend, John Cassavettes, Gordon Parks wrote, directed, and scored the first major Hollywood film to be directed by a black American, The Learning Tree (1969) based on his semi-autobiographical novel of the same name. By this point, Life magazine’s halcyon days were drawing to a close and Parks became increasingly involved in directing films.  He would go on to create short documentaries and direct such iconic films as Shaft, along with bio-pics depicting the lives of significant black Americans, such as Leadbelly and Solomon Northup’s Odyssey

Filmography

*Flavio, 1964

*Diary of a Harlem Family, 1968

*The World of Piri Thomas, 1968

*The Learning Tree, 1969

*Shaft, 1971

*Shaft’s Big Score!, 1972

*The Super Cops, 1974

*Leadbelly, 1976

*Solomon Northup’s Odyssey, 1984

*Moments Without Proper Names, 1987

*Martin, 1989

Video

Excerpt from Diary of a Harlem Family, 1968