The Learning Tree Actors: Gordon Parks “Choice of Weapons” Recipients

Gordon Parks.

Karole Graham, Stephen Perry and S. Pearl Sharp, cast members in “The Learning Tree” film by Gordon Parks, will receive “Gordon Parks Choice of Weapons Award” at the 2019 Gordon Parks Celebration

 Karole Graham, Stephen Perry and S. Pearl Sharp who were cast members in the film The Learning Tree will be the recipients of the “Gordon Parks Choice of Weapons Award” at the annual celebration this October 3-5, 2019 in Fort Scott, Kansas. The celebration is in honor Fort Scott native Gordon Parks, noted photographer, writer, musician, and filmmaker. This year’s celebration is a special one as we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Gordon Parks-directed film The Learning Tree that was filmed in Fort Scott, Kansas.

The Choice of Weapons Award was established in Parks’ honor to be given annually at the Celebration. Named after his autobiography of the same name, the award seeks to honor a recipient who exemplifies the career and character of Gordon Parks. Previous recipients include actor and musician Avery Brooks, photographer Howard L. Bingham, Elizabeth Eckford and Ernest Green, two of the “Little Rock Nine,” Richard Roundtree, star of the Parks-directed film, “Shaft,” Nichelle Nichols of “Star Trek” fame, acclaimed actress Ruby Dee, photographer John Shearer, LIFE magazine photo editor Bobbi Burrows, Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum, musicians Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr., editor Genevieve Young, filmmaker Kevin Willmott, educator Bernadette Gray-Little and Roger E. Mosley.

Karole Graham

Karole Graham, who played Big Mabel in The Learning Tree, has had supporting roles in other movies such as Cheech and Chong Hollywood, Gaily, Gaily, Black Girl, and Heavy Traffic (Animation). She has co-starred in many different television shows including ER, The Parkers, and Ryan Caulfield: Year One. She has also had guest starring roles in Ancient Prophecies IV, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, and The Red Foxx Show. Karole’s theatre credits include Nature of the Beast, The Curious Savage, Death Trap, For Colored Girls…, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Funny Girl, The Amen Corner, A Raisin in the Sun, and Zoo Man and the Sign. Karole attended the University of Southern California and majored in Theatre and Communications. She studied film technique with Nina Foch and has had training in the Classics and Shakespeare with Rudy Plaskoff, and training in Stage Theory and Acting with Frank Silvera. She resides in Studio City, CA. In addition to acting, Karole has been with the No Child Left Behind Federal tutoring program for more than 10 years, which services the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Stephen Perry

Stephen Perry, is a former actor who played Jappy in the The Learning Tree. He also had roles in A Raisin in the Sun (1961), The Sound and the Fury (1959) and numerous TV series including Twilight Zone (1960). Stephen has owned and operated three successful restaurants since 1986. His newest restaurant is Stevie’s Creole Cafe in Los Angeles which has received outstanding reviews and is celebrating its third anniversary (October 2019).


S. Pearl Sharp

S. Pearl Sharp, played Prissy in the The Learning Tree. S. Pearl starred in the TV movies Hollow Image and Minstrel Man. She creates cultural art for the eye, ear and heart, including two poetry w/jazz CDs (Higher Ground, On The Sharp Side), short stories (Uncertain Rituals), and the popular Black Women For Beginners. Her work broadcast on NPR and Pacifica Radio is collected in The Evening News – Essays And Commentaries From NPR And Other Clouds. Influenced by Parks, S. Pearl’s award-winning documentary films include The Healing Passage/Voices From The Water which aired on The Documentary Channel. She offers creativity coaching through The Gate Is Open.

Graham, Perry and Sharp will be honored at a dinner at the River Room in Fort Scott, KS on Saturday, October 5th. Ticket information and the full schedule will be posted on the website For more information email: gordo[email protected] or by phone call 223-2700, ext. 5850.


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