Beginning Wednesday at the Library of Congress, the public will have full access to Rosa Parks' archive of letters, writings and photographs for the first time. Parks is beloved in American history for her civil disobedience on an Alabama bus. (Feb. 4)
1. SOUNDBITE: Maricia Battle, Curator, Library of Congress
"The collection that's being put on display now for the public because this would actually be her 102nd birthday today. But more so important than that is the collection has been out of circulation for a little over eight years. You know, everyone's very familiar with her as the woman who sat down on the bus, but it's more a lot more than that. Even before the bus boycott, she was interested in civil rights. We see the early beginnings of her activism with the family material that we have here in this collection."
2. Various of Battle and Adrienne Cannon sorting collection
3. Zoom in on undated photo of Rosa Parks
4. Photo of Parks circa the 1950's
5.Writing of Parks
6. SOUNDBITE: Adrienne Cannon, African American History and Culture Specialist, Library of Congress:
"the public has an image of Rosa Parks as the woman that refused to give up her seat on the bus and they believe that this was her main act of defiance on behalf of human rights but this collection shows that her activism began before the bus and extended way beyond the bus. She had a firey spirit and I think the public will be surprised to hear intimations of that spirit in many of the autobiographical writings. Not only was she defiant, she was resolute. She did not back down. She was very powerful and forceful in what she said and very absolute in her meaning."
7. Various of picture of Parks with Pope John Paul II
8. Undated photo of Parks on bus
9. Name tag of Parks
10. Pan of collection
11. Photo of activist Kwame Toure (L) formerly known as Stokley Carmichael with Parks (R) in Michigan in the early 1980's
Beginning Wednesday at the Library of Congress, researchers and the public will have full access to Parks' archive of letters, writings, personal notes and photographs for the first time.
The collection will provide what experts call a more complex view of a woman long recalled in history for one iconic image - that of a nonviolent seamstress who inspired others to act at the dawning of the civil rights era.
"The public has an image of Rosa Parks as the woman that refused to give up her seat on the bus and they believe that this was her main act of defiance on behalf of human rights. But this collection shows that her activism began before the bus and extended way beyond the bus," said Adrienne Cannon, African American History and Culture Specialist at the Library of Congress.
A protracted legal battle between her heirs and friends had kept the collection from public view for years. But in 2014, philanthropist Howard Buffett bought the collection and placed it on long-term loan at the national library.
Parks, who died in 2005 at 92, is beloved in American history for her civil disobedience on a Montgomery, Alabama bus. That defining moment in 1955 triggered a yearlong bus boycott that helped dismantle a system of segregation.
Curators at the Library of Congress say access to the collection began Wednesday to mark her birthday.
Parks was born in Tuskegee, Alabama on February 4, 1913.
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