Former Staten Island teacher Elizabeth Meaders, 90, has collected 20,000 artifacts documenting the African American experience and is finally ready to auction them, reported CBS News. Meaders told CBS she has 14 museums in her house, dedicating each room to a different era.
CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas said walking into Meader’s home was like being “enveloped by history spanning the African-American experience.” Just on the way to the kitchen, Cline-Thomas was shown a picture of a slave being branded.
Meaders told CBS each room represented a different era. In what appeared to be a living room, she had a short, bronze statue of Joe Lewis and a pair of Muhammad Ali’s shoes. Cline-Thomas reported Meaders had been collecting these pieces for more than 60 years, totaling to a tremendous 20,000 artifacts.
Meaders amassed the authentic pieces on a teacher’s salary, often mortgaging her home to acquire them.
“There’s never been an auction of a large collection being sold as a collection like this,” said Arlen Ettinger of Guernsey’s Auction House.
Guernsey’s is hosting the auction and hopes a new buyer keeps the collection intact and in New York City.
“Hey Mayor Adams, come on, New York City with all his greatness does not have a full-blown African American Museum and you got one sitting right here in Staten Island,” said Ettinger.
Meaders took the initiative to make sure Black history was being documented as she witnessed it being made herself. She told CBS she hopes to see her collection on display either in an African American museum or even Barack Obama’s presidential library.
“Everywhere, every day Black history is being made. So it’s up to us to embrace it and to respect it and to promote it,” Meaders said via CBS. “Two million dollars for a baseball card, five million dollars for Marilyn Monroe’s dress - What is the value of the story of a people? That’s the question that this collection is trying to answer.”
Bidding starts at $1 million.