Announced today (January 10, 2024) The Gordon Parks Foundation will host its annual Awards Dinner and Auction celebrating Gordon Parks’s legacy and those continuing his commitment to advancing social justice on Tuesday, May 21st at Cipriani 42nd St. in New York City.
The Gordon Parks Foundation supports and produces artistic and educational initiatives that advance the legacy and vision of Gordon Parks—recognized as the most significant American photographer of the 20th century, as well as a writer, musician, and filmmaker, who used the arts to further “the common search for a better life and a better world.”
Through exhibitions, publications, and public programs organized in collaboration with national and international institutions at its exhibition space in Pleasantville, New York, the Foundation provides access to and supports understanding of, the work and contributions of Gordon Parks for artists, scholars, students, and the public. Through its year-round educational programming and annual grant-making initiatives, the Foundation champions current and future generations of artists and humanitarians whose work carries on Parks’s legacy. https://www.
This year’s gala will honor athlete, and activist Colin Kaepernick holder of the all-time NFL record for most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback, who took a knee during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” in 2016 to bring attention to systemic oppressions — specifically police terrorism — against Black and Brown people. For his stance, he has been denied employment by the league to this day. Since then, he has founded and helped to fund three organizations – Know Your Rights Camp, Kaepernick Media, and Kaepernick Publishing – that together advance the liberation of Black and Brown people through storytelling, systems change, and political education.
In addition to more than 20 years supporting dozens of social causes, Keys and Dean have co-chaired the Gordon Parks Foundation Awards gala for a decade and hold the largest private collection of Parks’s work. “We are deeply honored to be receiving the Gordon Parks Patrons of the Arts Award in 2024. We truly appreciate the Foundation’s work providing scholarships and fellowships to the next generation of students and artists whose creative work reflects and extends Gordon’s important legacy.” – Alicia Keys and Kasseem Dean.
Myrlie Evers-Williams played a vital role in the civil rights movement before and after the murder of her husband, Medgar Evers. Her courageous, lifelong dedication to fighting for equality and human rights has fueled her activism for more than six decades. Among many great achievements, she served as Chairman of the NAACP from 1995-1998 and founded the Medgar & Myrlie Evers Institute. She currently serves as Chairman of the Institute, with the mission of championing civil rights with a focus on history, education, and reconciliation, especially among young people.
Mickalene Thomas, who is acclaimed for her artwork dissecting the intersecting complexities of black and female identity within the Western canon, is also a Tony Awards nominated co-producer, curator, educator, and mentor to many emerging artists. She is the Co-Founder of Pratt>FORWARD and founder of Art>FORWARD Artist in the Market incubator for post-graduate students.
“Gordon Parks has socially, politically and culturally influenced how we tell our stories. He has taught us that the camera is an empowering tool that cultivates impact. His legacy has changed the game for Black creatives and paved the way for artists like myself. This award exemplifies the ongoing influence and celebrates creative minds and leading voices in visual arts and broader culture.” – Mickalene Thomas
The life and work of Richard Roundtree, who passed away on October 24, 2023, will be celebrated at the Gordon Parks Foundation gala this year with a special tribute. With a career that spanned more than fifty years, his legacy will forever be remembered as an actor who reshaped the landscape of film and television with many groundbreaking roles. Richard’s life changed forever in 1971 when Gordon Parks chose him to play private detective John Shaft in the iconic Shaft movie franchise. The role launched Richard’s five-decade career with a role that to this day is recognized as being a turning point for Black leading men in film.
The gala, which brings together changemakers across film, music, the visual arts, business, and philanthropy, will include a live auction of Gordon Parks’s photographs. The Co-Chairs for the 2024 Gordon Parks Foundation Awards Dinner & Auction are Kathryn and Kenneth Chenault; Agnes Gund; Judy and Leonard Lauder; Tonya and Spike Lee; Carol Sutton Lewis and William M. Lewis, Jr.; Crystal McCrary and Raymond McGuire; and Clara Wu Tsai and Joseph Tsai.
All proceeds from the evening will support year-round educational programming as well as the fellowships, prizes, and scholarships provided by The Gordon Parks Foundation to the next generation of artists, writers, and students whose work follows in Parks’s footsteps.