April 5, 2014

Letter from MLK to Rosa Parks Goes on Sale

 ©2014 USA Today

A 1960 letter from civil rights leader Martin
Luther King Jr. to Rosa Parks went on sale on March 25 for $125,000.

“It’s the only letter I’m aware of from King to
Parks,” said Gary Zimet, curator at Moments in Time, which is selling the
letter. The website deals in historical letters and documents, as well as
signed photographs and autographs.

In the letter, dated April 12, 1960, King writes
that he is responding to correspondence he received from Parks on March 14.
Explaining his delay in answering, he writes, “An extremely crowded schedule
has stood in my way.

“In the midst of constant harassment and
intimidation because of my involvement in the civil right struggle I often find
myself asking, ‘Is it worth it?’” King writes. “But then a friend of good will
comes along with kind and encouraging words that gives me renewed vigor and
courage to carry on. Your letter serves such a purpose.”

In 1955, Parks was arrested for refusing to give
up her seat on a city bus to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. The
arrest sparked the 13-month Montgomery bus boycott, a protest that culminated
in a Supreme Court ruling that declared segregation on public buses
unconstitutional. From the protest emerged a young civil rights leader:
then-26-year-old King.

Zimet did not provide details of how he received
the letter but said, “It emanates from the Rosa Parks family. Beyond that, I
cannot be more specific.”

He said he is not reproducing the letter online.