(Source: Todd Spangler, USA Today, September 10, 1014)
WASHINGTON — A collection of more than a thousand items that belonged to the late civil rights icon Rosa Parks — including her Presidential Medal of Freedom — will be housed by the Library of Congress.
Librarian of Congress James Billington announced Tuesday that the collection would reside at the library on a decade-long loan from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which purchased the collection from Parks’ estate for $4.5 million in August.
Buffett is the son of billionaire financier Warren Buffett. The items had remained in warehouses for years since Parks’ 2005 death in her adopted home of Detroit at age 92 as her heirs wrangled over the assets.
Parks is best known for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Ala., bus in 1955, sparking a bus boycott considered central to the civil rights movement and the end of government-sanctioned segregation.
She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 1996.
Parks’ collection is made up of some 1,500 items including personal correspondence and photographs, autobiographical notes, letters from presidents, a Congressional Gold Medal awarded in 1999, clothing, furniture and 200 drawings by schoolchildren and hundreds of greeting cards from individuals thanking her for her inspirational role in the civil rights movement.
Next spring, items from the collection will be incorporated into “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom,” a year-long exhibit opening today. Library staff will also digitize documents and visual materials and make them available through its website.