Gordon Parks Fellowship

The Gordon Parks Fellowship has been established to honor Gordon Parks’ legacy by generous contributions to the Wichita State University Foundation. The Fellowship is used to recruit and retain top applicants from underserved populations, providing financial support to students who might be otherwise unable to pursue further graduate instruction. It is awarded on an annual basis to a graduate student(s) enrolled full or part time in the MA in English program at Wichita State.

About Gordon Parks

A celebrated American photographer, film director, musician, writer, and humanitarian, Gordon Parks was born in Fort Scott, Kansas in 1912. A self-taught artist, Mr. Parks is one of the most important photojournalists of the twentieth century; his work consistently gave voice to national concerns over poverty, racial discrimination, and civil rights. Mr. Parks established his deep commitment to social justice early in his career through a series of photographs featuring Chicago’s South Side. These images won Mr. Parks a Julius Rosenwald Fellowship for Photography in 1941. He used this funding to document social conditions while working with the Farm Security Administration. “American Gothic,” Mr. Parks’ most renowned image, was taken during his time with the FSA. Mr. Parks would continue to build a successful career as the first African-American fashion photographer and photojournalist for Vogue and Life magazine. In the 1960s, he turned toward writing and filmmaking, becoming the first African-American to direct a major Hollywood film in 1969 with The Learning Tree. Filmed in Kansas, this adaptation of Mr. Parks’ 1963 autobiography was selected by the U.S. Library of Congress as one of the first 25 films to be honored for preservation in the National Film Registry. Until his death in 2006, Mr. Parks remained committed to social justice and has received national recognition for his humanitarian work.

"Philippine literature yields an understanding of how empire shaped Philippine culture and how, in turn, Filipinos continually reclaim language in order to give a voice to their oppression. English and Spanish as world languages—altered and adapted by native tongues such as Tagalog, Cebuano, and Ilocano—are the instruments through which Filipinos can express their unique historical and cultural experiences while in conversation with a wider, multicultural audience." 

-Abby Bayani-Heitzman, Gordon Parks Fellowship recipient (Spring 2020), on her research interests at WSU