Hank Willis Thomas has an ongoing vested interest in photography as a documentation of history and a means for people of color to represent their stories. Exodusters examines the representation and depiction of history, particularly during a significant moment in the pursuit for freedom and liberty during the Great Depression in Dust Bowl America. Thomas draws upon the archive of Gordon Parks’ seminal and semi-autobiographical film The Learning Tree (1969) that depicts the fictional Cherokee Flats, which is based-off of Parks’ hometown in Fort Scott, Kansas, where he returned to produce the movie.

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Photo by Levi Mandel

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