What Became of Harlem's Fontenelle Family? - NYTimes.com: In March 1968, Gordon Parks published a portrait of an African-American child with disheveled clothes in Life magazine. His lips were swollen and cracked from eating plaster, in a futile attempt to ward off hunger. His eyes were plaintive and haunting.
Richard Fontenelle was too young to understand, but he and his family became the faces of urban poverty for millions of Americans. The photo essay Mr. Parks produced — “A Harlem Family,” which is now on exhibit at the Studio Museum in Harlem — changed Mr. Fontenelle’s life, and the lives of every member of his family, forever. It sparked in him a desire to succeed, and a lifelong friendship with Mr. Parks.
Three days after the show opened, Mr. Fontenelle died of heart attack. He was 48 years old.
Yet his was a life of triumph savored: Of the eight Fontenelle children who appeared in “A Harlem Family,” he was the only one who lived past his 30th birthday and built a stable family life. He gave much of the credit for his success to his mother and to Mr. Parks, who became a father figure to him.