Rosa Parks house was almost lost, now it’s coming home

Rosa Park and her Detroit house via Wikipedia
Rosa Park and her Detroit house via Wikipedia

Civil rights icon Rosa Parks is known for her actions on a bus in Alabama, but somehow her house ended up in Berlin. Now, it is coming home.

In 2016, the American artist Ryan Mendoza discovered the house Parks occupied in Detroit. Its was falling apart and under foreclosure. Mendoza purchased the small wood frame house, backed it up and shipped it to Berlin, where it became part of an art exhibit in his garden. Now, the New York Times, reports that the Nash Family Foundation, a Minneapolis-based charity, has agreed to pay for its passage back to the states.

“I never wanted to rebuild it in my backyard,” Mendoza told the Times. “But I wanted to protect it…It’s time for the house to return home. It’s needed for people to have another major point of reference for how to treat each other with dignity. This will be a marker on the ground.”

While the historic house may have a ticket home, its final resting place is up for debate. Institutions including Brown University, the Museum of Modern Art, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit and the Brooklyn Museum, among others have all been queried.

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“The house has a symbolic importance — it’s important in the narrative of her life,” said James Nash, a board member behind the foundation’s pledge. “She suffered for a huge act of courage. It should be here, not in Berlin.”

But Mendoza says he has at least one good idea for where the house should go.

“Should this house go on the lawn of the White House for all time?” Mendoza asked. “Yes, why don’t we start with the house that was built by the slaves of this country.” [NYT]Christopher Cameron