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Born in Kansas in 1912 and self-taught, Parks became the first African-American staff photographer for Vogue and Life magazines. Throughout his career he took black America as seriously as he took fashion, documenting Harlem residents and the Jim Crow South while producing glamorous fashion spreads. He addressed stark differences between those worlds in a moving 1968 photo essay for Life titled “A Harlem Family,” writing, “There is something about both of us that goes deeper than blood or black and white. … I too am America. America is me. … Look at me. Listen to me. Try to understand my struggle against your racism. There is yet a chance for us to live in peace beneath these restless skies.”