Sheldon Museum of Art Main Content


Willie Causey and Family, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956

  • Gordon Parks, While Causey and Family, Shady Grove, Alabama, 1956.

Selected by Sriyani Tidball
Assistant Professor of Practice
College of Journalism and Mass Communications

Gordon Parks’s photograph of Willie Causey and his family deeply moved me, speaking well beyond the proverbial 1,000 words. This image, like many others Parks produced during the 1950s, was his way of telling the segegration story and advocating for civil rights, which he did with profound dignity and sensitivity. I was drawn to this work because of my own commitment to social justice and human rights. 

Parks definitely captured human emotion and the cultural context of the time. This photo is an important document of yesterday as well as an important message for today. While there is greater awareness around diversity and fairness today, there remains much exclusion and injustice in our world. 

I think photographs like this one can encourage us all to more deeply engage with others by inviting questions. Who are the people in this photo? What are their stories? What are they experiencing in this moment? What will happen in the future? This is the power of Parks’s work; he was talented and sensitive, and his images tell important stories as well as bring understanding and context to who we are and where we come from.