Saving Rosa Parks’ house – by moving it to Europe???

This happened some time ago, but I only just read about it in this article.

The project came about [in 2016], when Rhea McCauley, Ms. Parks’s niece, met Mr. Mendoza in Detroit. As part of an art project that explored his own sense of home, as well as the American subprime mortgage crisis, Mr. Mendoza successfully transported an abandoned house from Detroit to Europe, winning the trust of Detroit community members along the way. Ms. McCauley told him she had managed to buy back the family house for $500, but she could not find anyone interested in saving it from demolition.

Mr. Mendoza, who makes his living as a fine-arts painter, agreed to help. He raised a little over $100,000 by selling some of his paintings, and set out for Detroit. There, he worked with a local team to take apart the house, which had fallen into extreme disrepair.

He then shipped the wooden exterior to Berlin, where he spent the winter painstakingly rebuilding it, mostly alone, by hand. “It was an act of love,” he said.

That the house had to be shipped to Berlin to be saved is extraordinary, said Daniel Geary, a professor of American history at Trinity College Dublin, given that, “in general, in the U.S., with public heroes, there is an attempt to preserve anywhere they lived.”

Mr. Geary said that to him, the neglect of a house like this one speaks to a contemporary American unwillingness to deal with racism’s legacy.

“People like to remember Rosa Parks for one moment, when she wouldn’t stand up on a bus,” he said. “They don’t really want to grapple with the rest of her life. The death threats, the fact that she had to leave Alabama and go to Detroit. It’s a more complicated story with a less happy ending. She suffered for her decision.”

There’s more at the link.

It’s a pretty shameful thing that the home of such an icon of the civil rights movement should have to be disassembled and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in order to save it for posterity.  She worked as the secretary and receptionist for Detroit congressman John Conyers.  Could his colleagues and/or successors in office, and/or the Democratic Party organization in Detroit, not have done something to save a building like this?

It was reported late last year that the house would be returned to America.  I hope it happens soon.  You can read more about the house, and the effort to save it, here.



  1. Blaming "Americans" for the home's demise is ridiculous. Few ever knew about it. The blame lies with THAT city and the local BLACK community not having enough interest or pride to preserve it.

  2. The Democrats and the "Black Community" will get a total pass on this. All supposed "shame" will be directed at Whites and conservatives for not saving this building as a piece of history.

  3. To be fair, she was born in Tuskegee, Alabama, and did the majority of her civil rights work in Alabama. The historic significance of her late life residence is trivial.

  4. I guessing her supposed communism didn't endear her to anyone looking deeper at her life, but the primary problem is that she moved to Detroit, aptly described by what the president supposedly said about Haiti.

  5. "At the time, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. She had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for training activists for workers' rights and racial equality." So, she was specially trained to be a communist agitator. She was selected to be the face of the movement because she was a good socialist, relatively young at 42, and photogenic. It's always good for your side to talk about "those evil men over there molesting our women."

  6. Surely I'm not the only one wondering, "Who cares?" Had this been her house from when she was in Alabama I could see some concern over the matter. But the house she lived in later, 700 miles away from where the action was, doesn't seem all that noteworthy.

  7. Legacy is legacy.
    We shouldn't be disavowing elements of our past simply on account of a few "inconvenient" facts and truths.
    It seems anything that occurred more than 10 years ago "never happened".
    This is a mindset we should NOT be nurturing.

  8. Tal, what other pieces of her possessions should be saved too? As I see it, it was her story, not her belongings that have some interest.

  9. "Mr. Geary said that to him, the neglect of a house like this one speaks to a contemporary American unwillingness to deal with racism’s legacy."

    Or maybe it's just that a lot of Americans are getting heartily tired of being browbeaten about "the legacy of racism."

    If the black people of Detroit don't care, why in bloody hell should I?

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