Rare trove of historic African-American artifacts up for auction

A host of African-American historical artifacts, including Rosa Parks’ home, the Jackson 5’s first professional recording contract, and the manuscript for Malcolm X’s biography, are up for auction this week.

A handwritten letter from Parks detailing her first meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is also in the sale. The letter was written in 1955, just months before she refused to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama, an event that would turn her into a civil rights icon. The letter has a pre-sale estimate of $100,000 to $300,000.

Parks’ home in Detroit, where she lived in 1957 after fleeing the south following her bus protest, has a pre-sale estimate of $1 million to $3 million. The small 23-foot by 23-foot two-story wood home has been carefully disassembled, and has even been the subject of an international tour.

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There are over 1,100 lots in the sale, which is being handled by Guernsey’s Auction House. The auction is taking place Wednesday and Thursday.

RosaParksHome

Rosa Parks' Home, which is up for auction (Guernsey's Auction House)

Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday, Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey’s Auction House, said that he was confident that many of the items in the auction would end up in prominent museums. “Hopefully they will be treasured for what they are,” he said.

The Jackson Five’s first professional recording contract, signed by their recently deceased father, Joe Jackson, and Steeltown Records, has a pre-sale estimate of $100,000 to $300,000.

The manuscript for Malcolm X’s biography, as told to “Roots” author Alex Haley, also includes “lost chapters” that were deemed too controversial to publish. Notes in the document, for example, show Malcolm X calling for rebellion and revolt. The manuscript has a pre-sale estimate of $100,000 to $200,000.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers