Several items that belonged to civil rights icon Rosa Parks have been surrendered by her former attorney in Detroit as part of a bankruptcy case against him, though several items are still missing.
Lawyer Gregory Reed, who was Parks’ legal adviser in the 1990s, was ordered to surrender more than 100 items in his possession two years ago to satisfy creditors. Among the surrendered items was a signed, first-edition copy of Booker T. Washington’s 1901 autobiography, “Up From Slavery,” The Detroit News reported.
But several items were still missing as of a Tuesday deadline, including Parks’ key to the city and an early draft of a book written by Parks. Reed, who has said his clients included singers Aretha Franklin and Anita Baker, also was ordered to turn over framed gold records and iron slave shackles.
The missing items are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Erica Ehrlichman, a lawyer for bankruptcy trustee Kenneth Nathan. It’s unclear if the items have been sold, lost or hidden.
Reed has said most of the items belonged to a nonprofit he created, Keeper of the Word Foundation, to buy and preserve historical documents. Court records allege that Reed used his nonprofit to hide assets from creditors.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Marci McIvor has grown concerned about the increasing costs of finding the missing items. Legal fees in years-long case have grown to about $400,000, though creditors have only recovered about $75,000.
Ehrlichman filed court documents Monday seeking to cancel a hearing to determine if Reed should be sent to jail for failing to turn over certain items. Reed criticized the attempt, telling the newspaper that the motion “was inappropriate, frivolous and totally unnecessary.” He has said most of the missing items belonged to his nonprofit.
Parks became a pioneer in the civil rights movement by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. She later moved to Detroit.