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University Relations

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Feb. 8, 2006
Contact: Jennifer Kinnard, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, (785) 864-7644.

Renowned photojournalist Gordon Parks to receive 2006 William Allen White citation

LAWRENCE — Gordon Parks, the noted Kansas photojournalist, author and filmmaker, will be honored Friday, Feb. 10, as the recipient of the William Allen White Foundation’s 2006 National Citation.

A public ceremony honoring Parks will be at 1:30 p.m. in Woodruff Auditorium of the Kansas Union. Tickets are not needed. The Fort Scott native, now 93, will be unable to attend the ceremony. However, John Frazee, senior vice president of CBS News, an alumnus and trustee of the White Foundation, arranged for Byron Pitts, an award-winning correspondent, to interview Parks.

CBS has prepared a video including the interview and footage from “CBS News Sunday Morning” shows about Parks. The video includes footage of Parks accepting the award from Ann Brill, dean of the journalism school, in December in New York City, his home for many years.

In addition to the video, the William Allen White Day program will include remarks from Rich Clarkson, alumnus, renowned photojournalist and owner of Rich Clarkson and Associates in Denver.

An exhibition of Parks’ photography will also be on display at the KU Spencer Museum of Art through March. The exhibit, “Gordon Parks At Home and Abroad: A Small Selection,” is in the Study Gallery on the fourth floor of the museum.

“Gordon Parks is one of the most influential photojournalists, authors and composers of our time,” said Brill. “The fact that he is a Kansan makes the presentation of this award even more special. We think William Allen White would concur with the words on the citation that Gordon Parks is ‘An American Journalist Who Exemplifies William Allen White Ideals in Service to His Profession and His Community.’ ”

Parks just released two books, “Hungry Heart,” a new memoir, and “Eyes With Winged Thoughts,” featuring his poetry and photographs. “Gordon Parks: No Excuses,” a children’s book by Ann Parr of Lindsborg, comes out next month. He is the author of many other works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction, including “The Learning Tree,” “A Choice of Weapons” and “To Smile in Autumn.”

Parks has received numerous prestigious awards and was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum in 2002. He was the first black photographer to shoot for Life and Vogue magazines. Parks is also an accomplished movie director and music composer. He directed the movie “Shaft” in 1971 and has composed a piano concerto, a symphony, two sonatas, a ballet and three film scores. He is currently at work with cellist Yo Yo Ma on another composition.

The White Foundation trustees chose Parks to receive the citation, presented annually since 1950. KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications is named in honor of the nationally influential Kansas editor and publisher who died in 1944.

Other citation recipients include James Reston, 1950; Walter Cronkite, 1969; Arthur O. Sulzberger, 1974; James J. Kilpatrick, 1979; Helen Thomas, 1986; Charles Kuralt, 1989; Bernard Shaw, 1994; Bob Woodward, 2000; Molly Ivins, 2001; Cokie Roberts, 2002; and Gerald F. Seib, 2005. A list of past recipients is available at www.journalism.ku.edu.

For more information, contact Jennifer Kinnard, communications coordinator for KU’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, at (785) 864-7644 or jkinnard@ku.edu.

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