About 1,500 items of Rosa Parks, the “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement”, will be housed at the Library of Congress for ten years, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced Sept. 9 at the opening of its exhibit “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom”.
The collection includes her Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal, personal correspondence and photographs, autobiographical notes, clothing and furniture, plus hundreds of cards and drawings thanking Parks for her inspirational role in the civil rights movement.
Howard Buffett, son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett, is loaning the collection that the son bought at auction two weeks ago, reportedly for about $4.5 million. The collection had been unseen for years, in a New York warehouse, during a long court battle.
Parks’ refusal to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Alabama bus Dec. 1, 1955, led to her arrest. It became the arrest heard around the world.
The seamstress sitting in the whites-only section asked the arresting officer, “Why do you push us around?”
He replied, “I don’t know but the law is the law and you’re under arrest.”
Her arrest sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott that lasted 381 days, and led to the 1956 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning segregation on public transportation.
Most important, it was a major trigger for the civil rights movement.
After Parks’ death at age 92 in 2005, she became the first woman to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
Billington termed her “the very definition of the quiet power of an individual to inspire action in others.”
Some of her items will be incorporated into the just-opened, year-long exhibition “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom” next spring, and also will be digitized and made available on the Library’s website.
[Updates: Library of Congress
- Adds three Rosa Parks items to exhibit on March 7, and extends it through Jan. 2, 2016.
- Displays selected Parks items from March 2-30.]
For more info: Library of Congress, www.loc.gov. Rosa Parks materials already online at the world’s largest library, www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/rosaparks/rosaparks.html. “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom”, Library of Congress, Thomas Jefferson Building, second floor, Southwest Gallery, 10 First Street, S.E., Washington, D.C. Free exhibition has been extended through Jan. 2, 2016.