Judge told to follow Rosa Parks' wishes

Jan. 29, 2012 at 5:44 PM
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DETROIT, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- The Michigan Supreme Court ordered a lower-court judge to follow civil rights heroine Rosa Park's wishes and reinstate the trustees she selected for her estate.

The high court gave Judge Freddie Burton Jr. 28 days to follow its order and restore Elaine Steele, Parks' longtime assistant, and Adam Shakoor, a retired judge, to their positions, the Detroit Free Press reported. Burton replaced them after members of Parks' family challenged her will.

Parks, who spent her later years in Detroit, left most of her estate to the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development when she died in 2005 at 92.

In 1955, Parks helped kick-start the civil rights movement when she refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Ala., to a white man and was arrested. A bus boycott followed, and she became a national figure along with a young minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

The years of legal wrangling over Parks' estate have included infighting between Steele and Shakoor on one side and John Chase Jr. and Melvin Jefferson Jr., the lawyers appointed to replace them. Burton kept Chase and Jefferson as trustees after Parks' nieces and nephews agreed to a settlement.

Parks also had a large collection of civil rights memorabilia believed to be worth $8 million.

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