Black Daytona, 70 years ago

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Exhibit showcases ‘Midway’ through Gordon Parks photos

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(GORDON PARKS)

BY DAYTONA TIMES STAFF

Up top and above: These two pictures, were taken 70 years apart of the same intersection.
Up top and above: These two pictures, were taken 70 years apart of the same intersection.

The photographs of Gordon Parks artfully captured the lives of African-Americans in the mid-20th century with compassion and empathy.

In 1943, a federal assignment brought the world-renowned photographer to Daytona Beach to capture photos of Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman University.

Parks stayed for weeks, capturing images of the Daytona neighborhood known as “Midway.” He photographed classes and sporting events at Bethune-Cookman College as well as everyday life in the neighborhood.

From Sept. 11 through Jan. 15, “Midway: Portrait of a Daytona Beach Neighborhood’’ will be on display at the Yvonne Scarlett Golden Cultural and Educational Center. The exhibition includes 40 photographs taken in Daytona by Parks, who is perhaps best remembered for his photo essays in Life magazine.

Parks died in 2006 at age 93.

150910_dt_front01bMidway ‘Revisited’
In addition to the Parks photographs, “Neighborhood ‘99: Midway Revisited’’ photographs will be on display.

Neighborhood ‘99 is a photography project made up of images of the same areas and intersections photographed by Parks over 50 years earlier. The images were produced in 1999 during a workshop led by photojournalist Eli Reed that provided Daytona Beach Community College students an opportunity to document these same neighborhoods from an updated perspective.

A selection of Reed’s images and work by two of the student participants, Aaron Mervin and Jim Gavenus, were donated to the museum’s permanent collection at the end of the project.

Courtesy of local museum
The exhibitions are on loan at the center from the permanent collection at the Southeast Museum of Photography at Daytona State College.

An opening reception takes place from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the center, 1000 Vine St., Daytona Beach.

150910_dt_front01c“Gordon Parks’ 1943 photographs reveal a poor but proud and cohesive African-American community at a crossroads – still largely excluded from White America, yet in the midst of the momentous changes being wrought by a world war that initiated fundamental changes in American race relations and the status of African-Americans,” stated Leonard Limpel, a history professor at Daytona State College.

How exhibitions began
In 1992, Parks was invited back to Daytona Beach in 1992 as the keynote speaker for the grand opening of the Southeast Museum of Photography. During that visit, he discussed his time spent in Daytona Beach in the 1940s with the museum’s director at the time, Dr. Alison Nordstrom.

According to Southeast Museum, she later researched images by Parks held at the Library of Congress and said he was “transformed through the magic of old photographs” to a “livelier counterpart of the Second Avenue she knew – to a time when Midway was beginning a great change.’’

After seeing these images, she immediately understood their importance and plans for an exhibition was underway.

These exhibits can be seen at the Yvonne Scarlett Golden Center Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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