February 3, 2015 / 9:34 PM / 4 years ago

Rosa Parks papers to be open to Library of Congress researchers

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Thousands of documents and photos belonging to U.S. civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks will be open to researchers at the Library of Congress starting on Wednesday, the library said.

The Rosa Parks Collection contains about 7,500 manuscripts and 2,500 photographs, including personal correspondence and family photos, the Library of Congress said in a statement on Tuesday.

Parks became a civil rights symbol when she refused to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. Her subsequent arrest led to a bus boycott organized by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a galvanizing event in U.S. civil rights history.

The collection includes letters from presidents, fragmentary drafts of some of her writings from the time of the bus boycott, her Presidential Medal of Freedom and other items, the statement said.

A sampling of about two dozen objects will be on display at the Library of Congress next month.

Several items also will be shown from March 7 in the library’s ongoing exhibit, “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom.” The exhibit ends Sept. 12.

Parks’ papers were bought in August by a foundation controlled by the son of billionaire investor Warren Buffett for $4.5 million. The Howard G. Buffett Foundation is lending them to the Library of Congress for 10 years.

At the time of the bus boycott, Parks was a seamstress and secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP civil rights organization.

Parks later moved to Detroit and worked for Democratic U.S. Representative John Conyers. She died in 2005 and Wednesday would have been her 102nd birthday.

Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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