One page of handwritten notes and reflections by Rosa Parks. Page is in excellent condition with one small tear on the right edge, and measures 14 x 8 1/2". c. 1980.
At the top of the page is a reference to the Pulitzer Prize-winning book Parting the Waters, by Taylor Branch, specifically to Chapter 10, pages 190-191. Spoken of as a "monumental" work by the New York Times, these pages in Parting the Waters refer to the first bombing of the Reverend Robert S. Graetz's residence. Robert S. Graetz is a Lutheran clergyman and was a close friend of Rosa Parks'. As the white pastor of a primarily black congregation in Montgomery, Alabama, Graetz openly supported the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a landmark event of the Civil Rights movement. For this reason he was frequently targeted by the Ku Klux Klan.
Mrs. Parks' reflections are her personal experience of the bombing, told from a firsthand perspective. She seems to be reading through Branch's telling, and using his account to record what she remembered. Her account, in particular of the second bombing of Graetz's home, is far more detailed than the few sentences in Branch's book, and told with an empathetic and personal tone.
Of the first bombing, Mrs. Parks writes, "1st Bombing of Graetz home August 25, 1956 while he was out of town at Highlanders".
She goes on to write, "2nd bombing Jan 10 1957 early morning before the daylight. The noise awakened us. Parks quickly dressed and went out. He came back to tell us that Rev. Graetz's home was bombed I dressed and we went together [crossed out] the short distance [crossed out] to [crossed out] see the damaged house. [crossed out] The family Rev + Mrs. Graetz, their children. [crossed out] The 10 day old baby was not awakened by the sound. Mrs. Graetz mother who was visiting them because of the new baby and the other family members [crossed out] were badly shaken.
"The policemen were there and had roped off the place. They said we could not enter. Rev. Graetz spoke to me and [crossed out] said, 'Come in Brother Parks and Mrs. Parks' We went and offered to help. We began sweeping the floor and picking up. We went to the bombed home of Rev. Ralph Abernathy." Then below, "Bell St. Bapt Ch. Hutchman Street".
On verso is written, in the top left corner, "Page 2". It seems that Mrs. Parks was going to continue her reflections but ultimately did not.
The Graetz's was not the only residence that was bombed on January 10th, 1957. That night was one of terror in Montgomery. The Reverend Ralph Abernathy, who was out of town at Martin Luther King's family home in Atlanta, was shaken awake in the middle of the night to take a call from his wife, telling him that the porch and front room of their home were essentially gone. No one was injured. The Hutchinson Street Baptist Church was destroyed, as was First Baptist. Two more churches would be bombed before the night was through.
Mrs. Parks' firsthand account of these bombings is a moving look at an all too common occurrence during the Civil Rights era, made by the Mother of Civil Rights herself. Mrs. Parks' account of how she and her husband helped the Graetz family sweep up their home, and her particular attention, in her writing, to the reactions of the Graetz family, and to the newly born child of Mrs. Graetz, give her writing a deeply personal and touching appeal.
Note: From 2007 to 2014, Guernsey's was the custodian of the complete Rosa Parks Archive. Guernsey's was chosen for this humbling task by a Detroit court. When instructed by the court to find a permanent home for the collection, it was made perfectly clear that no items could be sold individually and that indeed the Archive, for historic reasons, had to stay together.
With offers from the Smithsonian, the Henry Ford Museum, and many prominent Universities, the Archive was ultimately sold, intact, to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation. The Foundation never took possession of the Archive, but instead instructed Guernsey's to work closely with the United States Library of Congress, where the Archive now resides.
In an interview given on National Public Radio, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden described the Rosa Parks Archive as the "most important collection within the Library of Congress's 120 million documents, rare books, and other holdings".
A key part of the Archive consisted of Ms. Rosa Parks' almost journal-like notes. These were observations, recollections, and reflections about pivotal times and people in Ms. Parks' life and in the Civil Rights movement. It is not clear if these notes were ever meant to be seen by others, or were ways for Ms. Parks to remember such important people and occurrences. Some of the most important documents in this auction are these writings by Ms. Parks.
From the Gregory Reed Collection. Gregory Reed was Rosa Parks' lawyer, and consequently had in his possession a number of documents relating to African American history and the Civil Rights movement. Additionally, he represented the family members and Estates of members of various Motown groups, such as the Temptations.