When she died in October of 2005, Rosa Parks left behind a legacy as a cornerstone symbol of the civil rights movement. She also left behind personal memorabilia and intellectual property that had become very valuable in her lifetime. Since her death, there has been an ongoing dispute in a Michigan probate court over who is the rightful owner of that property. Earlier this month a probate court judge indicated that the estate battle may soon be concluded.
The property in question is primarily personal memorabilia that Ms. Parks had acquired during her lifetime. Because she is such a prominent figure in American history, that memorabilia is estimated to be worth between about $8 million and $10 million. Since her death, both her family members and a nonprofit organization she had founded have been fighting over who should receive that property. The case culminated in a decision by the Michigan Supreme Court last December, in which the court stated that the property should be transferred to the non-profit organization, the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development.
A previous decision by a Michigan appeals court had given the memorabilia to the 15 nieces and nephews of Ms. Parks who had filed a claim with the probate court. The Supreme Court decision overturned this ruling, and now the Michigan probate court judge presiding over the case is set to issue orders that will finalize the ruling. The orders also state that if the Institute should sell any of the memorabilia, 20% of those proceeds will go to the 15 nieces and nephews who had been Ms. Parks’ legal heirs.