Thursday, April 2, 2020

Finding light in darkness -- April 2, 2020 column


By MARSHA MERCER

With the onslaught of bad news, we all need moments of light and delight.

It was heartening to see Italians singing from their balconies and Brits clapping on their front porches, showing solidarity and thanking healthcare workers during the coronavirus crisis.

Some residents of Alexandria put candles or luminaries outside their houses at 7 p.m. April 1 to thank healthcare workers.

Unite the Night, an idea that started in Ohio, asks people to put out luminaries for an hour starting at 8:30 p.m. every Sunday. The idea is for the event to start at 8:30 in each time zone, so “there is never darkness as we wait for the next time zone,” the Unite the Night website says.h

I hope the gesture catches on not only to thank doctors, nurses and all the first responders who are overworked and in danger but also to fight the darkness we’re all feeling.

The prolific author Alexander McCall Smith has written a poem for our troubled times, “In a time of distance," that begins:

The unexpected always happens in the way
The unexpected has always occurred:
When we are doing something else,
While we are thinking of altogether
Different things – matters that events
Then show to be every bit as unimportant
As our human concerns so often are;”

It’s a wonderful poem, and if you haven’t read McCall Smith, you might pick up one of his popular novels – perhaps electronically through the public library or from an independent local bookstore that is closed temporarily and is struggling.

It seems wrong that liquor stores are “essential” but libraries and bookstores are not, though I’m glad people are staying safe.

Fortunately, exercise outside is still allowed, with social distancing, unless you or someone in your home is sick.

On our walks, we often stop outside the tiny, independent bookshop a few blocks away and peer through the windows at the stacks of books. The bookshop has shifted to online-only sales with optional curbside pickup service, a very popular option many retailers now offer.

Around the corner, an Italian restaurant made local news for a promotion giving away a free roll of toilet paper with every carry-out order. You can still buy a roll for $2 with any order. Proceeds of the TP sales benefit their Employee Relief Fund.

Some people are adopting pets to help them get through this period of fear and grief. This is especially worthwhile since animal shelters are overflowing with pets but are not open to the public. The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria is sponsoring a virtual adoption process with potential pet owners and pets meeting first online.

You probably can find in your community similar creative ways bookstores, restaurants, animal shelters and other businesses are coping.

We’ve found the busy-ness of our lives replaced by slowness and silence. Walking in areas usually bustling with traffic, we hear more birdsong and spot new birds, oblivious to human troubles. Along the Potomac, I heard the river lapping rocks. How had I missed that?

At home, I’m cooking old, family recipes I always meant to try. My late mother typed some on a typewriter on 3”x5” index cards. On Sunday, I made “Mrs. O’Quinn’s Waffles – Selma, Ala.” I was a toddler when we lived by Mrs. O’Quinn.

I haven’t tried baking bread yet, but many people are, evidently. Yeast and flour are among items in short supply, if available at all. A friend reported on Facebook he ordered six small packages of yeast on Amazon for $33.98. Those will be pricey baguettes.

Fortunately, farmers’ markets are open by pre-order and pickup, and many vendors sell bread. You can learn new cooking skills from the many chefs who teach free classes on YouTube and Instagram.

And, as the coronavirus invasion happened in the spring, we have daffodils, tulips and other flowers to lift our spirits. We can putter in our gardens. Weeding is still a chore, but it cures many ills when we can’t control much of anything.

It’s a great time for a victory garden. What will you grow?

© 2020 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.


Thursday, March 26, 2020

Say `Thank you' to heroes of coronavirus -- March 26, 2020 column


By MARSHA MERCER

In a presidential debate before the 1988 election, Vice President George Herbert Walker Bush, the Republican nominee, was asked about heroes who could inspire young people.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, he said.

“You’ve probably never heard of him. He’s a very fine researcher, top doctor at the National Institute of Health, working hard doing something, research on this disease of AIDS,” Bush said. C-SPAN found and posted the clip this week.

Today, nearly everybody has heard of Fauci. The director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is a hero of the novel coronavirus crisis.

Fauci, 79, stands behind President Donald Trump at news conferences and, with grace and courage, sets the record straight when Trump errs about the virus.

The coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease it causes, have upended daily life, caused sickness, financial hardship, fear, grief and more than 1,000 deaths nationwide. 

The crisis is also showing us the best in America. It has brought us together as we stay apart to stop the spread of disease. And there are many other new heroes.

Often standing near Fauci at news conferences is Dr. Deborah Birx, 63, who was U.S. global AIDS coordinator in the State Department until the White House picked her to be the coronavirus response coordinator.

Her calm presentations are professional, reassuring and personal. Urging young people to practice social distancing, she told of her grandmother’s lifelong guilt after as a child she brought home the Spanish flu that killed her mother.

“My grandmother lived with that for 88 years  . . . this is not a theoretical. This is a reality,” Birx said.

Another hero to many is New York’s Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has shown extraordinary leadership and empathy.

Cuomo calmly and clearly explains in daily news conferences how New York became the epicenter of the outbreak and how the state and the country can get through the crisis.

He reminds New Yorkers and all of us to thank those who put their lives on the line when they go to work.

“Our health care workers, who are doing God’s work. . .  Can you imagine the nurses who leave their homes in the morning, who kiss their children goodbye, go to a hospital, put on gowns, deal with people who have the coronavirus?” Cuomo said at Tuesday’s briefing.

“You want to talk about extraordinary individuals. And it’s the nurses and the doctors and the health care workers. It’s the police officers who show up every day . . . And it’s the firefighters and it’s the transportation workers, and it’s the people who are running the grocery stores and the pharmacies and providing all those essential services.”

Many are finding ways to help. In Virginia, when Gov. Ralph Northam asked for volunteers for the Virginia Medical Reserve Corps, more than 1,500 health professionals signed up in a month. On Wednesday, Northam asked for more volunteers.

At least half a dozen Virginia distilleries have shifted from producing whisky and other libations to hand sanitizer. Bakeries donate fresh bread to food banks.

Amy and Jeremy Filko of Vienna, Virginia, are using 3-D printing to make plastic shields to protect N95 masks, Washingtonian magazine reported.

The Filkos send four free masks to doctors, nurses and health care workers who request them through their Facebook page and cover the shipping costs themselves. They also are sharing the technology with others who want to make shields, as long as they agree to provide the shields free.

To this group of everyday heroes, I would add blood donors, neighbors who shop for others, delivery people, sanitation workers, mail carriers, cashiers -- and the people who cover the news day in, day out.

In this time of rampant misinformation on social media and mostly unfounded criticism of reporters by the president and his fans, we need solid, fact-based reporting more than ever.

News organizations face grave financial challenges, and with continued layoffs and cutbacks work harder to do more with less. There’s never been a better time to subscribe to a local newspaper in print or online.

And, as we keep our distance, we can still smile and say, “Thank you,” to all the unsung heroes of this crisis.

©2020 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.
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Thursday, March 19, 2020

What did you do during COVID-19? -- March 19, 2020 column


By MARSHA MERCER

When plague shuttered London theaters, William Shakespeare wrote poetry.

COVID-19 has shut down just about everything. What are you doing?

It’s tempting – and depressing -- to obsess on the rising numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths. Bingeing on Netflix will get old. How many puzzles can you do?

Or, you could take a cue from Shakespeare.

“Tradition has it that Shakespeare wrote his two long poems, `Venus and Adonis’ and `The Rape of Lucrece,’ during a period of forced unemployment in 1592-94, when an outbreak of the plague closed London’s theaters,” according to Folgerpedia, the Folger Shakespeare Library’s encyclopedia.

The bubonic plague or black death, spread by fleas on rats and mice, was a recurring and devastating fact in Shakespeare’s time and in his personal life. He was born during a plague period of 1563-1564, and his three sisters died of plague. His son Hamnet also died of plague.

When the plague death toll rose to 30 a week in London, the government shut down the theaters. Shakespeare and others who could headed for the countryside.

In our time, we stay home. Lucky people are working from home; others face “forced unemployment.” For how long, no one knows.

Congress and the White House are working to ease financial hardship, but after years of wishing we had more time at home, many Americans are discovering we have too much time on our well-soaped hands.

In Washington, the Folger, Smithsonian museums, National Zoo, National Gallery of Art, Library of Congress, Capitol, Supreme Court and Arlington National Cemetery are all closed to visitors.

Most tourist favorites around the country have exchanged the “Welcome” sign for one that reads “Do Not Disturb.” Almost all diversions are suspended. Gyms are closed, and bars and restaurants are operating under shorter hours or take-out only.

Large gatherings are out, so you can’t go to the movies, see a play or a concert. Sports are on hiatus too. The Outer Banks has banned tourists as a precaution for residents.

But nobody said you must stay indoors – just six feet away from other humans.

National and Virginia state parks are open, although visitors’ centers are closed. National parks that charge admission fees are waiving them, an incentive to get outside. It’s a good idea to take your own water bottle and not drink from water fountains, experts say.  

Take up bird watching, gardening or another hobby you never had time for. Stuck inside? Bake bread.

Or watch an opera from the Met in New York, streaming free at 7:30 p.m. daily for as long as the Met is closed. You may find a crowd online, but each opera is up for 20 hours, so you can check back.

The Library of Congress has canceled its wonderful concerts and other programs for now, but its YouTube channel puts previous performances at your fingertips.

Or tour a museum through artsandculture.google.com, which offers an amazing array of cultural sites.

It’s worth remembering that most of us are not sick and won’t get sick, especially if we follow good hygiene and social distancing rules. We are being asked to change the way we live – for a while – to help our family, neighbors, community, nation and world.

It could be worse. In 1603, as plague again swept London, King James I issued orders to try to stem the disease. Houses where someone was sick were “to be closed up” for six weeks. Clothes, bedding and other items belonging to those infected were to be burned.

People were urged to avoid the company of others, and if they did leave home, they were to mark their clothes to warn others of their disease. Getting caught not obeying the rules could land someone in the stocks.

Shakespeare took up his pen and wrote. In his time, he was more known for his 154 sonnets than his 37 plays.

What’s that? You say iambic pentameter isn’t your jam? No worries.

Herbert “Tico” Braun, history professor at the University of Virginia, recently urged his students and former students to keep a record of this period in “one or more different forms of your own choosing, a journal, a blog, an e-portfolio, a film, a series of artworks,” Braun told UVAToday. 

“Each individual perspective is valuable, and adds to the whole,” he said.

Who knows, it might lead to something great.

 © Marsha Mercer 2020. All rights reserved.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Fight coronavirus: No more elbow bumps! -- March 12, 2020 column


By MARSHA MERCER

Like many others, I’m learning how to live in the time of coronavirus.

I was glad to hear handwashing is the first line of defense against the aggressive disease – until I learned I’ve been washing my hands wrong my whole life.

Simple handwashing is actually a seven-step process involving special attention to tops and bottoms of the hands, each finger and wrist and should last 20 seconds – long enough to sing the “Happy Birthday song” twice, not just once.

Fortunately, “Stayin’ Alive” by the BeeGees and “Jolene, Jolene” by Dolly Parton are among other tunes with 20-second choruses.

I feel guilty touching my face, which I still do countless times an hour, despite my best intentions.

Greetings and good-byes are now fraught with danger. I automatically accepted someone’s outstretched hand for a handshake on Capitol Hill the other day.

“We really shouldn’t,” I stammered.

“It’s OK! I have this!” he assured me, happily waving a bottle of hand sanitizer. 

Somehow, members of Congress and Hill staffers have oodles of hand sanitizer, while the rest of us haunt the empty aisles of CVS, waiting for restocking. But I digress.

If handshakes are 20th century relics, so are air kisses – and don’t even think about an “innocent” peck on the cheek or mouth kisses. Fist bumps are out, and, just as I was getting the hang of them, elbow bumps were too.  

Elbow bumps put us within a meter of each other, and that’s about twice as close as we should be, the director general of the World Health Organization said. Maintaining 6 feet from other people is best.  

“I like to put my hand on my heart when I greet people these days,” tweeted the director general, who has the splendid name Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Some members of Congress wave or give Spock’s Vulcan salute.

I’m learning a new vocabulary. “Social distancing” is the term for public health actions designed to contain contagion. When dozens of colleges and universities around the country suspend classes, that’s social distancing, not extended spring break.

Businesses are sending employees home to telework, canceling travel and large meetings. Clubs and volunteer organizations are also choosing to meet virtually or not at all.

The Gridiron Club, Washington’s premier journalism group, canceled its annual white-tie dinner and musical show lampooning politicians for only the second time in 135 years and the first time since 1942.  

The World Health Organization Wednesday declared COVID-19 a pandemic, meaning it is widespread around the world. More than 1,000 Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University researchers. More than 30 people in the United States have died of the disease.

Many people without symptoms put themselves into self-quarantine after learning they had dinner or interacted in other ways with someone who has been infected.

We’ll likely see less of each other as more people go into personal isolation in months to come.

“Many people in the United States will, at some point in time, either this year or next be exposed to this virus, and there’s a good chance many will become sick,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the Centers for Disease Control’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Tuesday, but “we do not expect most people to develop serious illness.”

Most – about 80 percent – will get a mild case, but about 20 percent could get severely ill and die. The disease hits older people hardest, and CDC this week suggested people 60 and over avoid crowds, stock up on groceries and medications, and stay off cruise ships and long plane trips.

For the latest on the disease and staying healthy, avoid the bogus cures and lies on social media. Check out coronavirus.gov.

Among the CDC’s tips besides washing, but not shaking, hands: Avoid sharing food and open windows at home, in offices, taxis and ride-shares and on buses. 

The irony, of course, is many offices, hotels and other commercial buildings are sealed tight so you can’t get a breath of fresh air.

Nor can we wave a magic wand and make coronavirus disappear. But we can learn how to reduce our chances of exposure and infection, and if we get sick: Stay home!

And since coronavirus doesn’t care if you’re a Democrat or Republican, this is a fight we must make together.

©2020 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

A running mate matters more this year -- March 5, 2020 column

By MARSHA MERCER

Democratic voters have spoken, and they’ve said “no” to presidential candidates who are 1) youngish, 2) female, 3) black or 4) rich.

Gone are candidates Cory Booker, 50; Pete Buttiegieg, 38; Amy Klobuchar, 59; Kamala Harris, 55, and many others. Tulsi Gabbard, 38, is forgotten but not quite gone. 

Money didn’t buy presidential hopefuls love or victory. Mike Bloomberg spent an astonishing $560 million on TV, radio and digital ads as of Tuesday, according to CNN, and dropped out Wednesday after winning only America Samoa on Super Tuesday.

Tom Steyer spent $210 million on ads before he dropped out after coming in third in South Carolina, winning no delegates.  

So, we have a Democratic contest between two white male senior citizens: Biden, who will be 78 on Election Day, and Bernie Sanders, a heart attack survivor who will be 79. 

Both are said to be fit for the rigors of the job, as is President Donald Trump, who will be 74 on Election Day. Trump’s unscheduled visit to Walter Reed hospital last year remains a mystery.

Elizabeth Warren, 70, is assessing her future, as of this writing, after coming in no higher than third in any state. She is a smart, effective senator who has much to offer in the Senate.

Biden, the new frontrunner, won at least nine of the 14 Super Tuesday states, including Virginia. Sanders won Colorado, Utah, Vermont and is projected to win delegate-rich California, which is still counting votes. 

A presidential election between oldies is not necessarily a bad thing. In a country where the average life-expectancy age is 76 for men, though, running mates may become a bigger deal this year. Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, is 61.

First and foremost, the running mate should be qualified to be president. The Constitution requires only a natural born citizen at least age 35 and a resident of the United States for the last 14 years.

To energize women disappointed by the lack of a viable woman in the race, the nominee should pick a running mate who is not an old, white male. Sorry, Sherrod Brown, whose name often appears on short lists of potential running mates. The U.S. senator from Ohio is 67.

Another temptation to stifle is picking a running mate with more sizzle than substance. We’ve seen what happens when a presidential contender of a certain age wants to juice his campaign with a younger outsider running mate.

In 2008, Republican John McCain, 72, picked Alaska Gov. and self-described “Mama grizzly bear” Sarah Palin, 44. The disastrous choice made people wonder about McCain’s judgment.

A running mate can also be reassuring. In 2008, Democrat Barack Obama, 46, wanted someone with “gray in his hair” who he thought would not aspire to the presidency. Biden, 65, was a safe choice with decades of Senate experience, which Obama lacked.

Should he win the nomination, Sanders already has said his running mate must back Medicare for All, his controversial single-payer health-care plan. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 30, is too young to be VP. Thank goodness.

Biden, should he win, will need to show he’s stable but not ossified. He has teased several women’s names as potential running mates – among them Stacey Abrams, failed gubernatorial candidate in Georgia, and Michelle Obama. Obama has repeatedly said she’s not interested in running for office.

Abrams said she’d be “honored” to run for vice president and “absolutely” wants to be president herself. She is African American, 46, a Yale law school graduate, former Georgia state representative and Georgia House minority leader.

But, she has baggage as a tax lawyer who didn’t pay her own taxes in 2015 and 2016. She said during the 2018 campaign she needed the money to pay her family’s medical bills.

Republicans attacked her on the issue and likely would again, even though last year she reportedly paid off the $54,000 in federal taxes she owed as well as $170,000 in student loan and credit card debt.

While presidential nominees usually shy away from picking former rivals as running mates, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar are all attractive former competitors who’ve been vetted and would balance a Biden or Sanders ticket.

Nobody votes for a president based on the running mate, but the choice is a candidate’s first big decision. Whoever wins the Democratic presidential nomination this year will need to make the choice seriously, carefully and boldly.

(C)2020 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

You say you want a revolution -- Feb. 27, 2020 column


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By MARSHA MERCER

Four years ago this week, I wrote that voters on Super Tuesday could put the brakes on Donald Trump – “but will they?”

At the time, mainstream Republicans and Democrats were both worried that insurgent presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders might actually win their parties’ presidential nominations but turn off general election voters that November.

Trump Fever seemed to be spreading, I wrote, and on Super Tuesday a few days later Trump triumphed over his GOP rivals, winning seven of the 12 states with Republican contests, including Virginia. Of the 11 Democratic contests, Hillary Clinton beat Sanders in Virginia and six other states.

And so, Trump, the candidate many were sure couldn’t win a general election last time is now the president many say can’t lose reelection if his opponent is the current frontrunner, an avowed Democratic socialist. 

Michael Bloomberg painted this bleak scenario at the Democratic debate Tuesday night:

“If you keep on going, we will elect Bernie, Bernie will lose to Donald Trump, and Donald Trump and the House and the Senate and some of the statehouses will all go red and then, between gerrymandering and appointing judges, for the next 20 or 30 years we are going to live with this catastrophe."

So far, just a trickle of votes in three states has been cast. (As of this writing, South Carolina hasn’t yet voted.) A torrent is coming.

On Super Tuesday, 15 jurisdictions, including California, Texas and Virginia, will select more than a third of the pledged delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination. Forty percent of the U.S. population will have a primary event that day.

Sanders, who is not a Democrat, sent chills down many Democratic spines with his appreciation on “60 Minutes” last Sunday of Fidel Castro’s literacy program. Castro is anathema to Cuban-American voters in South Florida. Florida, for those who don’t remember the 2000 election, is a crucial state.

Sanders, 78, insists he has “opposed authoritarianism all over the world,” but he hasn’t budged in decades in his admiration for aspects of those ruthless regimes.

“When dictatorships, whether it is the Chinese or the Cubans, do something good, you acknowledge that,” he said at the debate. “But you don’t have to trade love letters with them.” Trump said in 2018 he and North Korea’s Kim Jung Un “fell in love” over their “beautiful love letters.”

Pete Buttigieg warned that Democrats can’t win critical House and Senate races “if people in those races have to explain why the nominee of the Democratic Party is telling people to look at the bright side of the Castro regime.”

Sanders claims he will beat Trump with an infusion of young, new voters, but turnout has not surged. He has won in the early states not by bringing in new voters but by expanding his appeal among existing Democratic voters, a New York Times analysis found.  

Sanders has proposed a Medicare for All plan, free child care and free public college tuition. He hasn’t said how much all that would cost and talks about raising taxes on the wealthiest 1%. Amy Klobuchar put a pricetag of nearly $60 trillion over 10 years on Sanders’s plans. Voters would not support such a huge expenditure, she said.

But Sanders maintained on CBS after the debate, “The truth is, nothing I am saying is radical.”

Sanders argues the United States already has corporate socialism, which benefits billionaires like Trump, while Sanders’s brand of democratic socialism would use the federal government to protect the interests of working families.

Buttigieg, 38, warned of “a scenario where it comes down to Donald Trump with his nostalgia for the social order of the ‘50s and Bernie Sanders with a nostalgia for the revolution politics of the ‘60s.”

No Democrat wants a repeat of the 1972 or 1984 debacles, which many Sanders supporters probably don’t remember.

In 1972, George McGovern lost 49 states to Richard Nixon, winning only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. In 1984, Ronald Reagan’s landslide left Democratic Walter Mondale with wins only in his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.  

The big question this Super Tuesday: Democratic voters can put the brakes on Sanders – but will they?

©2020 All rights reserved.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Meeting the Rosa parks we never knew -- Feb. 20, 2020 column


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By MARSHA MERCER

Contrary to popular myth, Rosa Parks was not physically tired the afternoon she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man.

“The only tired I was, was tired of giving in,” she wrote years later. Nor was she old, though “some people have an image of me being old then.”

It was Dec. 1, 1955, and Parks was 42. There were no TV cameras, reporters or cell phones on the Cleveland Avenue bus in Montgomery, Alabama, so over time she wrote letters and notes in her neat cursive, correcting misconceptions about what happened and recording the thoughts and events of her long and consequential life.

She was not, as is often told, sitting in the bus section reserved for white passengers that day. She was in the first row of the “colored” section, but in the segregated South blacks were required to move to the back of the bus if whites needed a seat. When passengers crowded on and a white man was left standing, the bus driver ordered Parks and three others to move. The others reluctantly did so.  

Parks is often portrayed as a meek seamstress, and she did work as a seamstress in a department store. But she was hardly meek. Quietly militant, she had been fighting racial injustice for decades. Finally, fed up with the second-class treatment of blacks in the Jim Crow South, she stood up for freedom by staying seated.

“I had been pushed around all my life and felt at this moment that I couldn’t take it anymore,” she wrote soon afterward. “When I asked the policeman why we had to be pushed around? He said he didn’t know. `The law is the law. You are under arrest.’ I didn’t resist.”

That note on yellow paper is among Parks’s personal papers that were unavailable to the public and scholars for years. The Library of Congress received the collection in 2014 and created “Rosa Parks -- In Her Own Words,” an exhibition that tells the personal story of one of the most famous figures of the 20th Century.

The exhibition at the library in Washington through September and online at www.loc.gov is a reminder during Black History Month, or anytime, that one courageous individual can change the course of history. On Presidents’ Day, when I stopped by, people of all ages and races were paying close and respectful attention to the displays. I recommend the excellent companion book to the exhibit, “Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words,” by Susan Reyburn, on which I rely here.

Parks’s life seems to move inexorably from refusing in childhood to let a white boy bully her (and being scolded by her grandma for talking “biggety to white folks”) to her act of civil disobedience in middle age that led to the 381-day Montgomery bus boycott and launched the civil rights movement. Even then, more than half her life was still before her, and she never stopped working for equality.

She died in her sleep at 92 in 2005 and lay in state in the U.S. Capitol, the first woman so honored. She and her late husband had no children, and relatives and friends battled in court over her belongings, which eventually were boxed up and shipped for storage in a warehouse in New York, awaiting an auction.

Howard G. Buffett, son of billionaire Warren Buffett and head of his own private foundation, bought the entire Parks collection in 2014 for an undisclosed sum. The auction house, however, reportedly placed its value at $10 million. He loaned the collection to the Library of Congress and generously made the gift permanent in 2016.

“I’m only trying to do one thing: preserve what’s there for the public’s benefit,” Howard Buffett told the Associated Press. “I thought about doing what Rosa Parks would want. I doubt that she would want to have her stuff sitting in a box with people fighting over them.”

The trove includes 7,500 manuscripts, 2,500 photographs, clothing she sewed, her many awards and even handmade cards to Parks from children.

“I want to be remembered as a person who stood up to injustice,” Parks said. “And most of all I want to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free and wanted others to be free.”

That memory of Rosa Parks is safe at the Library of Congress, part of one of America’s great treasures.

©2020 Marsha Mercer. All rights reserved.