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Gordon Parks

A boy, a slum, and a photographer Flavio was 12 and suffering from malnutrition and asthma. Then a magazine story changed his life



The Flavio Story Gordon Parks Published by Steidl $75

hen he travelled to Brazil in March, 1961, to photograph the slums of Rio de Janeiro for Life magazine, Gordon Parks had no idea of the impact his work would have. Profiling the da Silva family, which lived in a hillside favela close to a wealthy enclave of Rio, Parks’ 12-page photo-essay, Freedom’s Fearful Foe: Poverty, published in the magazine’s June 16, 1961 issue, led to an extraordinary chain of events. The story focused on the family’s eldest son 12-year-old Flavio – who suffered from crippling asthma and malnutrition – as he cooked, cleaned, scavenged for supplies, and cared for his siblings while his parents worked outside the home in the Catacumba favela. Brazil was so enraged by the telling of the story, that the editors of O Cruzeiro, the country’s leading news magazine, retaliated by sending Henri Ballot to document poverty in New York’s Spanish Harlem and Lower East Side. There, Ballot found Puerto Rican immigrants Felix and Esther Gonzalez, who lived ColdType | Mid-October 2018 |

Flavio da Silva feeds Zacarias, his 17-month-old brother at their slum home in Rio de Janeiro.

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ColdType Issue 170 - Mid-October2018  

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