A letter signed by slave poet Phillis Wheatley was sold to a private collector of African American literature and art for $253,000 by New York-based Swann Auction Galleries in November 2005, making it the highest amount paid for a letter written by an African American, and possibly by a woman. Written in 1776 to Wheatley’s friend and fellow slave Obour Tanner, the two-page document spoke of the American Revolution. Passed down in the family of abolitionist Amasa Walker, this was Wheatley’s only letter to ever appear at an auction. There are 19 known others, all in institutional collections. “[There is] growing interest in collecting both African Americana and women’s history,” says Swann autograph specialist Jeremy Markowitz. “No letter written by an African American has even come close to the price achieved for the Wheatley letter.”
– Sakina P. Spruell
Floyd Gary Thacker, CEO of former BE 100s company Thacker Operating Co., has been charged with fraud and conspiracy for providing thousands of dollars in gifts to a former Houston official. Thacker, owner of the Atlanta-based construction and energy services firm, is accused of giving Monique McGilbra, Houston’s former building services director, thousands of dollars in cash and gifts. At the time, she oversaw a city energy services contract of which Thacker got a significant share. The charges came in the form of “criminal information” from the U.S. attorney in Houston, not as an indictment. Thacker’s father started Thacker Operating Co. in the 1960s and it became a mainstay on the BE 100s in the 1980s.
Patricia A. King has been named to the board of Harvard University, making her the first African American woman member of the university’s governing corporation. King, a law professor at Georgetown University, officially starts May 1 and succeeds Conrad K. Harper. King, a 1969 alumna of Harvard Law School, served on the Georgetown faculty for more than 30 years.