Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago, 1953 - Photography Archive - The Gordon Parks Foundation

Pastor Ledbetter, Chicago, Illinois, 1953

     During a 1953 trip to Chicago for Life, Parks returned to neighborhoods he had photographed in the 1940s, searching for subjects to illustrate an article that would be titled “The Modern Shouting Baptist.” His quest led him to the Reverend Ernest Franklin Ledbetter, pastor of the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church, which he had photographed years earlier. Parks admired the pastor’s resolve, and the hours he spent each day at prayer with members of his congregation to help them endure the subjugation that many experienced in their jobs. One especially memorable image from the article shows a moment of silence in which Ledbetter, standing before his congregation, closes his eyes and holds up his hands, palms facing out, in a call to prayer.