Tags: Rosa Parks | archives | Library of Congress | Buffett

Rosa Parks Archive Coming to Library of Congress

Image: Rosa Parks Archive Coming to Library of Congress
Civil rights heroine Rosa Parks. (Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 09:29 AM

After years of residing in a warehouse, hundreds of items that belonged to civil rights icon Rosa Parks will soon be available for public viewing, the Library of Congress has announced.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington said Tuesday the Rosa Parks Collection will be at the library on a 10-year loan from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which purchased the items in August.

The collection is composed of about 1,500 items, including personal correspondence and photographs, autobiographical notes, letters from presidents, clothing, 200 drawings by schoolchildren, and hundreds of cards expressing gratitude to the civil rights leader for her contribution to the nation.

The collection also will include her Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal, and additional honors and awards.

The items will be incorporated into the new exhibition "The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom," in the spring of 2015.

In addition, the library will digitize the documents and visual materials and make them widely available through its website.

When he purchased the collection, Howard G. Buffett, son of billionaire investment guru Warren Buffett, said his foundation planned to give the collection to an institute or museum.

The Library of Congress seemed an appropriate fit, Buffett said.

"My goal was always to ensure this historic collection would be made available for the public's benefit so that as many people as possible can learn about Rosa Parks and the sacrifices she made to support the civil rights movement. I believe that partnering with the Library of Congress to display these items in our nation's capital is the best way to achieve that goal," Buffett said Tuesday.

A yearslong legal fight between Parks' heirs and her friends led to the memorabilia being removed from her Detroit home and offered up to the highest bidder.

Guernsey's Auctioneers President Arlan Ettinger, which oversaw the sale of the collection, valued the collection at $10 million. But neither Ettinger, nor Buffett would disclose the amount the foundation paid for the collection, reported Philanthropy News Digest.

"This material, which needed to be out there to be both educational and inspirational to people today and their children's children, was sitting in our warehouse," Ettinger said after the sale.

Parks died in 2005 at age 92.

She would become one of the nation's greatest civil rights leaders when she refused to forfeit her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus to a white man. The singular action would trigger a yearlong bus boycott, which contributed to the death of officially sanctioned segregation.

The public was previously unable to view the items as a consequence of the legal battle among her heirs.

The impetus for the sale came earlier this year when Buffett saw a televised news report about how Guernsey's Auctioneers has kept Parks' valuables in a New York warehouse since 2006.

"I could not imagine having her artifacts sitting in a box in a warehouse somewhere," Buffett said. "It's just not right."


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After years of residing in a warehouse, hundreds of items that belonged to civil rights icon Rosa Parks will soon be available for public viewing, the Library of Congress has announced.
Rosa Parks, archives, Library of Congress, Buffett
492
2014-29-10
Wednesday, 10 Sep 2014 09:29 AM
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