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GORDON PARKS MUSEUM RECEIVES HUMANITIES KANSAS GRANT

GORDON PARKS MUSEUM RECEIVES HUMANITIES KANSAS GRANT

TOPEKA – Humanities Kansas recently awarded $5,745.00 to the Gordon Parks Museum in Fort Scott to support the “Learning Tree Film Scene Location Trail” project. Kirk Sharp serves as project director.

The project is a series of signs located at the different scene locations where the filming of The Learning Tree took place. The signs will also include QR codes along with a virtual tour of identified 12 different scene locations of The Learning Tree Film.

The Gordon Parks Museum has also received a grant from the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation to assist with funding support for this project as well.

Currently, we are in the first phase of our timeline that includes taking current photos of the locations along with researching and obtaining other photos with text information. The completion goal date for this project is by August 15, 2021.

This historical film by Warner Bros. Seven Arts, was the first time a major motion picture movie filmed in Hollywood was directed by a black film director. Fort Scott, KS’s native son, Gordon Parks was that person. This film was partially filmed in 1968 on location in Fort Scott and the surrounding area to include Mound City, KS. The film was released in 1969. The film was based on a semi-autobiography novel with the same title that Gordon Parks wrote in 1963. The story, based on Gordon’s childhood in Fort Scott, KS, is about a boy growing up in a difficult time in segregation and poverty. This film was placed in the Library of Congress National Film Registry Classics in 1989 as one of the top 25 important films. The film continues to be very important today.

Over hundreds of people from both Fort Scott and Mound City, KS area were part of the film as film extras, with a few having speaking parts in the film. This film holds fond memories of those that were in
the community when the filming was taking place. Most of the scene locations are still here and are accessible to drive or walk to.

“We are very excited about this project and much honored to be able to receive this awarded grant to give tribute to this wonderful film. The Learning Tree film is a part of Fort Scott and Mound City history that residents in these communities can be very proud to be part of; along with its Kansas native son, Gordon Parks.” said Kirk Sharp, Gordon Parks Museum Executive Director.

“Humanities Kansas supports projects that illuminate local history,” said Julie Mulvihill, Humanities Kansas Executive Director. “This project’s interactive signage will bring Parks’ film to life for community members and visitors alike.”

About Humanities Kansas Humanities Kansas is an independent nonprofit spearheading a movement of ideas to empower the
people of Kansas to strengthen their communities and our democracy. Since 1972, our pioneering programming, grants, and partnerships have documented and shared stories to spark conversations and generate insights. Together with our partners and supporters, we inspire all Kansans to draw on history,
literature, ethics, and culture to enrich their lives and serve the communities and state we all proudly call
home. Visit humanitieskansas.org.

Feature Photo: Gordon Parks along with his son, Gordon Parks Jr. in Fort Scott, KS during filming of The Learning Tree.
Unknown Photographer Copyright: Courtesy of and Copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation.