Gordon Parks Essay Prize


Gordon Parks, Emerging Man, Harlem, New York, 1952 courtesy The Gordon Parks Foundation
Gordon Parks, Emerging Man, Harlem, New York, 1952 courtesy The Gordon Parks Foundation
The Gordon Parks Essay Prize offers three $5,000 awards to Harvard undergraduate and graduate students per academic year for essays that explore the relationship between visual art and justice as it pertains to racial equity. The prize, which honors the legacy of photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks, serves to acknowledge the importance of visual literacy and the nexus of race and citizenship, particularly in the United States.

The inaugural prize will be presented at the “Vision and Justice” conference April 25- 26, 2019 at Harvard University.


Both undergraduate and graduate student essays are eligible for consideration. The award is not restricted to students from any specific concentration or department. For the 2018-19 academic year, awards will go to two undergraduate students and one graduate student.

Essay length

The essay word limit is 7,500 words including footnotes and references, and may include images with captions.

Essays must have been written within the last three academic years for any course at Harvard University (within the academic years 2016-2017, 2017-2018, and 2018-2019). Students may also submit a chapter of a thesis. Alternatively, students may submit essays written expressly for the purpose of applying for the award and not related to academic classwork. Essays previously published or under contract for publication are ineligible.


The three selected students will receive a prize of $5,000 each.

Prize jury

The jury is comprised of faculty from the following departments: History of Art and Architecture, African and African American Studies, and Visual and Environmental Studies.


Essays should be submitted to CARAT by Monday, March 25, 2019. Announcement of the award recipients will occur at the end of April.

Questions pertaining to the Gordon Parks Essay Prize may be directed to:

Feven Girmay, Undergraduate Studies and ALP Program Coordinator
Office: Barker Center, 2nd Floor, 231A
Email: fevengirmay@fas.harvard.edu
Phone: (617) 496-8545

Specific questions will be forwarded to the Parks Prize committee chair.