Rosa Parks’s collection of letters, photographs and notes will be available to the public for the first time. Parks is seen as an icon of the Civil Rights movement, a seamstress who sparked a year-long boycott after her arrest for refusing to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama. Beginning Feb. 4, the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., will help researchers gain a more complete view of who Parks really was.
"It's important because we see Rosa Parks in a kind of almost frozen, iconic image — a hero that is not really real flesh and blood," library historian Adrienne Cannon told the Associated Press. "Here we get a sense of a woman that is really full flesh and blood."
Her writings show an impassioned woman tired of struggling through segregation, feeling lonely and trying to make ends meet after losing her job following her arrest.
"I had been pushed around all my life and felt at this moment that I couldn't take it anymore," read one of her entries. "When I asked the policeman why we had to be pushed around, he said he didn't know. 'The law is the law. You are under arrest.' I didn't resist."
The archive had been kept under close guard during a legal battle between heirs and friends, which gave historians only very limited access to the collection. Once philanthropist Howard Buffett acquired the collection in 2014, he loaned it to the Library of Congress for public view. Parks’s archive contains approximately 7,500 manuscripts, 2,500 photographs, the Bible she carried around with her, fan letters, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom she received in 1996.
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