The estate of civil rights icon Rosa Parks has been going through a six-year court battle ever since she died in October of 2005. However, it appears that this battle may soon be coming to an end. A Michigan probate court judge has stated that he will issue an order within the next 30 days stating that the estate property that has been the subject of the conflict will be finally transferred to the new owners.
Ever since she refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus to a white passenger in 1955, Ms. Parks has been a figurehead and defining symbol of the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. Her fame and notoriety has caused many of her personal possessions and memorabilia to become incredibly valuable. The subject of the probate battle has primarily been who owns much of this memorabilia. The contest was between 15 of Ms. Parks’ nieces and nephews and the representatives of the nonprofit organization she started, the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development.
A Michigan appeals court had previously ruled that the 15 nieces and nephews were the rightful owners of the memorabilia because they were the legal heirs of Ms. Parks. However, the Michigan Supreme Court overturned that ruling in December of 2011, stating that the property should be in the possession of the Institute.
The Michigan probate court judge overseeing the case will issue orders that transfer the property to the Institute and which dictate that any proceeds from the sale of the memorabilia will be divided between the Institute and the nieces and nephews. The family members will be entitled to 20% of the proceeds while the institute will receive the 80% share.