‘Sharp and Subversive’ Scenes of Integrated 1940s Summer Camps 

Gordon Parks’s Photos of Black and White Kids at Play Resisted Segregation in Nature and Beyond by Presenting a Vision of America as He Hoped It Could Be

One day in 1923, three white boys pushed 11-year-old Gordon Parks into the Marmaton River in rural Kansas. Parks couldn’t swim and he tumbled under the surface, the current pushing his small body along. He hoped he would somehow find himself washed ashore, far away.

“Swim, Black boy, or die!” his assailants shouted as he floated away.

Twenty years later, in the summer of 1943, Parks was at a summer camp in upstate New York, taking photographs of white and Black children at play in a lake. His near-drowning must have been …