Born in Fort Scott, Kansas, Gordon Roger Alexander Buchannan Parks was a groundbreaking American photographer, musician, poet, novelist, journalist, activist and film director. He is best remembered for his photo essays for Life magazine and as the director of the 1971 film Shaft. Despite racist attitudes of the times, Parks worked a great deal as a freelance photographer and was later hired by Vogue magazine as a freelance fashion photographer. After moving to Harlem in New York City, a 1948 photo essay on a young Harlem gang leader won Parks a staff job as a photographer and writer with Life magazine. For 20 years, Parks produced photos on subjects including fashion, sports, Broadway, poverty, racial segregation, and portraits of Malcolm X, Stokely Carmichael, Muhammad Ali, and Barbara Streisand.