Rosa Parks’s house has been on a long, beautiful journey
Three years ago, Rosa Parks’s house was about to be demolished, until an American artist saved it by shipping it to Berlin. At long last, the house is coming back to the States, after its European vacation.
The Civil Rights leader was driven from her home in Montgomery, Alabama by death threats and blackballing by employers in the wake of her act of protest in which she refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white patron. With few options, she moved to Detroit in 1957 to live with her brother, where she stayed for two years. Parks passed away in 2005.
Like many homes in Detroit, the Parks’s house was eventually foreclosed and slated for demolition. Parks’s niece, Rhea McCauley, bought the home off the demolition list for $500 with the hopes that someone could restore the property. Eventually McCauley connected with artist Ryan Mendoza, who raised the funds to transport Parks’s home to Berlin, Germany. Since 2016, the house has been on public display in the backyard of the house Mendoza shares with his family in the German capital.
Mendoza told the New York Times that he didn’t want to rebuild the home in Berlin, but “wanted to protect it” and did so the only way he knew how. Now, he knows it is time for the house to return home. He hopes that Rosa Parks’s former home can become a memorial for the Civil Rights movement.
Thanks to the Nash Family Foundation, last month, the house was packed up like a piece of Ikea furniture, and shipped back across the Atlantic. On April 3, after it is reassembled and reconstructed, it will go on display at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
This is the home of Rosa Parks, who in 1955 refused to give up her seat in the “whites only” section of a bus, acting as a major catalyst for the civil rights movement. It was about to be demolished when Berlin-based artist Ryan Mendoza joined forces with her family to ship the house from Detroit to Germany. After reconstructing it, they sent it on a tour of galleries around Europe in an attempt to raise awareness of its neglected existence in America. This month it returns to the US and will be on display at Brown University. Photo: Fabia Mendoza