Skip to main content
Browse by:

Exhibit: Photographer Gordon Parks's 1956 Life magazine series, "The Restraints: Open and Hidden"

Iconic photographer Gordon Parks joined the Library of Congress's Farm Security Administration (FSA) in 1942 as the first [Julius] Rosenwald Fellow in photography. Parks was exposed to racism and segregation in Washington, D.C., in ways he hadn't experienced while living in Minnesota or Chicago; FSA photo team head Roy Stryker pushed him to strike back at the discrimination with his camera. In 1948, he became the first African-American to work as a staff photographer for Life magazine. In his twenty years at the iconic publication, he sought to challenge stereotypes while still appealing to a larger audience. "The Restraints: Open and Hidden" is an exhibition of a color photo essay of the same name that Life ran in 1956; the piece sought to show the magazine's (largely white) audience that black people, even those living under segregation, lived full, rich, ordinary lives.The exhibit coincides with Duke University's year-long series of events: Celebrating the Past, Charting the Future: Commemorating 50 Years of Black Students at Duke.The nine-month, campus-wide commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the first black undergraduates will celebrate diversity and inclusiveness by illuminating Duke's black history. The university plans to host a range of events and compile a rich archive of feature articles, photos and other visual material to help tell the story of the black experience at Duke. Questions? Email or visit

Contact: CDS Front Desk