Entries in Rosa Parks (3)


Statue of Rosa Parks Unveiled, Politicians Pay Tribute

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama and congressional leaders paid tribute to Rosa Parks Wednesday during Black History Month, as the civil rights pioneer took her “rightful place” among those who have shaped the nation’s history.

“She defied the odds and she defied injustice,” Obama said at the unveiling of a statue of Rosa Parks at the U.S. Capitol. “She lived a life of activism, but also a life of dignity and grace. And in a single moment, with the simplest of gestures, she helped change America and change the world.”

In 1955, Parks refused to move to the back of a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala., sparking a movement against racial prejudice with one simple act. More than half a century later, she became the first African-American woman honored with a statute in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

“With this statue, we affirm that the courage and the cause of Rosa Parks not only earned her a place in the hearts of all Americans, but a permanent place among the other figures in this hall of national memory,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell proclaimed. “This simple carpenter’s daughter from Tuskegee is honored as a national hero. What a story. What a legacy. What a country.”

The “seamstress slight in stature but mighty in courage” continues to inspire Americans to face today’s challenges, Obama said.

“Rosa Parks tells us there's always something we can do. She tells us that we all have responsibilities to ourselves and to one another. She reminds us that this is how change happens -- not mainly through the exploits of the famous and the powerful but through the countless acts of often anonymous courage and kindness and fellow feeling and responsibility that continually, stubbornly expand our conception of justice, our conception of what is possible,” he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Rosa Parks Estate Looted by Attorneys and Judge, Lawyer Alleges

Angel Franco/New York Times Co./Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A Michigan attorney is alleging that a judge and two lawyers have executed a plan to "raid and bankrupt" the estate of civil rights icon Rosa Parks by draining it of more than half-a-million dollars and holding hostage a treasure trove of memorabilia.

Steven Cohen claimed in court papers filed this week that Wayne County Probate Judge Freddie G. Burton, Jr. and attorneys John Chase, Jr. and Melvin Jefferson, Jr. conspired to drain the estate of more than $500,000 through unnecessary legal fees that have left it "deeply in the red."

At the center of the dispute are more than 8,000 pieces of civil rights memorabilia belonging to Parks including personal letters, photos, papers, books, awards and clothing. The collection is valued at up to $10 million and has been sitting for months in auction limbo in a warehouse belonging to Guernsey's Auctioneers and Brokers of New York.

The collection is supposed to be sold as one lot to a museum or institute that can display all of the items together.

Cohen represents the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute, which is "dedicated to the motivation of youth to reach their highest potential in an environment of peace," according to the filing.

Parks became an icon of the civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Ala., bus in 1955, an act that earned her the title "Mother of the modern Civil Rights movement."

Before Parks died in 2005, she left almost all of her estate to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute and nominated institute co-founder and longtime friend Elaine Steele to be the trustee along with former judge Adam Shakoor.

Cohen wrote that Judge Burton replaced Steele and Shakoor with "long-time probate cronies" Chase and Jefferson after Parks died.

"This was the beginning of a broad conspiracy among Judge Burton, Chase and Jefferson (the 'Conspirators') to deplete the estate of its assets and unjustly and unlawfully direct these and other assets to the possession, control and ownership of Chase and Jefferson," Cohen wrote in the filing.

Cohen said that Chase and Jefferson charged the estate $595,000 in fees using "double, triple and quadruple billing practices to falsely inflate the administrative and attorney fees."

"It was nothing more than a concerted plan to raid and bankrupt the estate of a revered civil rights icon for improper and selfish financial interests," he wrote.

Alan May, the attorney for Chase and Jefferson, vehemently denies all of the claims.

In a separate filing, Cohen asked that Burton be removed from the case for allegedly conspiring with Chase and Jefferson.

May said he and his clients will "absolutely" be fighting back against the Cohen's claims.

Burton did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

"The overall goal is to have proper administration of the estate," Cohen told "We are looking for Chase and Jefferson and Judge Burton to pay back all of these outrageous attorney fees to the tune of approximately half-a-million dollars in cash. We're looking for that to be returned and we're looking for the artifacts to be returned to our control."

Cohen is also demanding a trial by jury.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Rosa Parks' Letter Release Detailing Rape Attempt Angers Institute

Colin Bootman/Getty(NEW YORK CITY) -- Members of the institute that Rosa Parks formed nearly 20 years before her death are horrified that Parks' personal letters, one of which reveals an attempted rape, are sitting at a New York City auction house waiting to be sold as part of a protracted dispute.

"The folks who cared about Rosa Parks the most, the folks at her institute, her best friend, Elaine Steele, and others are mortified that her private thoughts have now been published," said Steven Cohen, an attorney representing the institute.

A Michigan court has authorized Guernsey's Auctioneers and Brokers of New York to sell the merchandise as part of the settling of Parks' estate. Parks died in 2005 in Detroit, Mich., at 92 and a battle has since ensued among the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, Parks' relatives and the probate court.

Media coverage of an impending sale of 8,000 of Parks' items revealed a treasure trove of civil rights memorabilia, valued between $8 and $10 million. Along with the items that reveal details about Parks' civil rights work are personal letters written when she was a teenager and later in life to her husband and mother. Of particular concern to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute is a 1931 letter in which Parks describes fighting off a white neighbor who nearly raped her.

Parks, who moved to Detroit in the late 1950s, helped found the institute in 1987 and attorney Cohen said she had intended for her items and the licensing of her name to benefit the institute.

Cohen recently filed an application with the Michigan Supreme Court, challenging previous rulings that have stripped the institute from being a beneficiary of Parks' estate and from receiving any benefit from the sell of Parks' memorabilia and personal belongings.

In the July 19 court filing, Cohen wrote, "Since Mrs. Parks death in 2005, however, the court system of her adopted city has embarked on a course to destroy her legacy, bankrupt her institute, shred her estate plan and steal her very name."

Cohen said he filed the paperwork before he and the institute knew there was a letter detailing the attempted rape.

The institute claims that the personal revelation in the letter is not civil rights memorabilia and thus is not authorized to be sold.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio