Retired NYC school teacher collected pieces of Black history for 70 years

Lauren Glassberg Image
Monday, March 14, 2022
Retired NYC school teacher collected Black history for 70 years
Elizabeth Meadors hopes a philanthropist or even the city will buy the collection and turn it into an actual museum. Lauren Glassberg has the full story.

MARINERS HARBOR, Staten Island (WABC) -- In Mariners Harbor, Staten Island sits a house filled with history.

"These are letters from all the prominent people in the civil rights movement," said Elizabeth Meadors who's been collecting important pieces of Black history since she was a teenager.

Meadors, a now 89-year-old retired teacher, started her collection with items related to Jackie Robinson, but soon her tastes expanded.

"This was the very first African American millionaire who was a cosmetic queen," Meadors said.

She's amassed documents and photos and ephemera some of it inspiring.

"The Renaissance team, they are the beginning of African American Basketball League," Meadors said.

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And some of it is a reminder of the hardship Black Americans faced throughout history.

"These are samples of hats worn by African Americans in different wars," Meadors said. "This was a branding iron and this was a branding iron."

It is a collection more than 70 years in the making filling four floors and nine rooms of the house.

Meadors has dedicated one section of her collection to the civil wrongs in American history.

A subject that has been too often overlooked and undervalued. But this collection helps to tell much more of that story.

"I didn't set out to create a museum but my house is a museum," Meadors said.

On Tuesday Guernsey's will auction off more than 10,000 pieces as one lot valued at anywhere between $2 million and 10 million.

All of this is important to Meadors who hopes a philanthropist or even the city will buy the collection and turn it into an actual museum.

"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to rescue this collection and plant it in New York this is where it was born," Meadors said.


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