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Wed, 10.13.2004

Rosa Parks/OutKast case finally settled

Rosa Parks

On this date in 2004, the federal judge overseeing the Rosa Parks OutKast lawsuit appointed Detroit's former mayor Dennis Archer to review the case.

In this incident Parks' relatives are at odds with her lawyer and caregiver over who can best protect her well being. The dispute is especially emotional because of Parks' current medical condition. Her doctor recently asserted in a court document that she has dementia and cannot testify or be deposed. The fight is in part from litigation that has been filed in her name but that her relatives doubt she knows about. The case is LaFace Records v. Parks, 03-504.

Her family said her longtime caregiver and confidante, Elaine Steele, and her lawyers are seeking monetary settlements for their own gain. Steele is the co-founder of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, which could share in the proceeds from any settlement against OutKast. Steele contends that the suits, over a song invoking her name, are meant to protect Parks' reputation. Her family argues that they trivialize it. Now the federal judge overseeing the suits, George Steeh, brought in Archer, one of Detroit's most respected residents.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia., who marched alongside Parks in Civil Rights protests in the 1960s said. "Rosa Parks is a mother of the civil rights movement. It would be very unfortunate if people forgot her raw courage and remembered her as an elderly African-American lady who sued a rock band." The story of how Parks reached this point combines bravery with sadness, and royal self-respect with furious anger. It is tinged with racism and generous doses of jealousy.

On April 14, 2005, the suit was settled. Under the settlement, OutKast and co-defendants SONY BMG Music Entertainment, Arista Records LLC and LaFace Records will work with the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development to develop educational programs "to enlighten today's youth about the significant role Rosa Parks played in making America a better place for all races," Archer said in a statement.

OutKast and other contemporary artists will perform on a tribute CD to be produced by SONY BMG, said Archer. The parties also will collaborate on an educational television program about Parks' life and legacy. Archer will host the program, which will be distributed on DVDs to thousands of public schools nationwide, the statement said.

The Associated Press
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