“When Gordon Parks left his hometown of Fort Scott, Kansas, at the age of 15 in 1928, it was to escape a place he would later call “the mecca of bigotry.” Parks’ mother arranged for her son, the youngest of her 15 children, to live with an older sister in Minnesota, where, she hoped, Gordon would be spared the “bitter trials of Kansas.”
At 37, Gordon Parks returned to Fort Scott, sent by LIFE to photograph the bitter trials of Kansas that his mother had wanted him to escape. But his pictures would never be published, bumped from the magazine by stories deemed more newsworthy.
Now these rarely seen photographs are making their public debut in an exhibit, Gordon Parks: Back to Fort Scott, at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, which opens on Saturday, Jan. 17. All but lost for more than half a century, the story behind the photographs is now being told for the first time.”
A Lost Story of Segregated America From LIFE’s First Black Photographer: