Rosa Parks Letter Auctioned, Purchased by Montgomery Family
A page handwritten by Rosa Parks sold at auction last week, and the buyers had a very good reason for the purchase. Parks wrote about two Civil Rights era bombings in Montgomery.
The buyers of that hand written page were the family and friends of Reverend Robert and Mrs. Jeannie Graetz, whose house was the target of those bombings. The Graetz family arrived in Montgomery in 1955, just in time to become central figures in the bus boycott. They befriended their neighbor Rosa Parks, who famously refused to give up her bus seat for a white man. Her arrest prompted the boycott, which prompted acts of violence like the Graetz bombings.
“Those are times that we don’t like to remember, but they’re always good things that come out of the bad things that happened,” Mrs. Graetz said.
One good thing occurred recently. The Graetz’s found out about the page written by Parks going up for auction.
“We thought ‘well that’s something that we would like to know more about,” Graetz said. “We didn’t know about this auction coming up, and our children all decided that we oughta try to get it.”
The Graetz children called auction officials to find out the process for acquiring the letter, then asked family and friends to help buy the paper.
“A number of people stepped up and made pledges and so we went in with enough financial backing we believed to acquire it,” Jon Graetz said.
After bidding by phone, Jon said the family was anxious to see if their offer would be accepted. It was and the Graetz’ bought the handwritten page for $7,500.
“Right from the beginning, we were saying ‘this needs to come home to montgomery’, so that was a wonderful relief when it happened,” Jon Graetz said.
Mrs. Graetz said she considered it a sign from Parks.
“It just kinda of like ‘they’re talking to us’ over all the years and of course as we get older our memories are very precious and it just kinda of brought them closer,” Mrs. Graetz said.
Reverend Graetz is recovering at home from an illness. The Graetz’s children live across the world, including Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and France.
The Graetz family will donate the Parks letter to Alabama State University.