There are overt references to the discrimination the family still faced, such as clearly demarcated drinking fountains and a looming neon sign flashing “Colored Entrance.” There are also subtler, more unsettling allusions: A teenager holds a gun in his lap at the entrance to his home, as two young boys and a girl sit in the background. Young Emmett Till had been abducted from his home and lynched one year prior, an act that instilled fear in the homes of black families.
Parks faced danger, too, as a black man documenting Shady Grove’s inequality. “With a small camera tucked in my pocket, I was there, for so long…[to document] Alabama, the motherland of racism,” Parks wrote. Life found a local fixer named Sam Yette to guide him, and both men were harassed regularly. In his writings, Parks described his immense fear that Klansman were just a few miles away, bombing black churches.