Rosa Parks is one of the great African-American heroes of the Civil Rights era, and an American artist living abroad is going to extreme measures to make sure that her Detroit home stays preserved. Ryan Mendoza, who lives in Germany and Italy and is known for his work in Detroit, will purchase the home and ship it to Europe in hopes of avoiding its demolition.
Owned by Parks from 1957 to 1959, the home had been abandoned for years until her niece Rhea McCauley purchased it in 2014. The home on South Deacon Street is where Parks first settled down after leaving the South to stay with family following her legendary act of civil disobedience and subsequent arrest. McCauley had initial trouble finding local financial backers to preserve the home, which led her to reach out to Mendoza.
“Not having found anyone through the usual channels to help her finance the restoration of the house, Rhea approached me after having seen The White House project…[and] asked me if I could help her save the house her aunt had once lived in,” Mendoza told Mlive. Mendoza quietly worked to transport the house’s facade in a shipping container before holding a private send-off ceremony on September 25th. His current plan is to transport it across Europe as a display after restoring it. The property back in Detroit, after the remaining portions are torn down, will become an urban garden designed to help provide the neighborhood with vegetables.
Interestingly enough, Mendoza has gone on the record as saying he does not feel that he should have been the person to take on this duty. “It should be somebody in the Black community doing this, not a white guy. I’m not even from Detroit,” he said. “But my choice was … ‘Do I leave Rosa Parks’ house to be demolished by the city, or do I step up and say OK, I’m going to help (McCauley) preserve the memory and save this house?’ That’s what this project is all about,” he added.
However, he also added that he had “a great sense of pride” that the Black community had entrusted him with an important project, and was curious to see if it would spark a conversation about the value of some of these abandoned homes that carry some degree of historical value.
“She loved the city, but I don’t think the city loved her very much back,’ McCauley said about Parks.
“This house should have been preserved here. But we live in a world where every other project takes precedence.”
Date Posted: Monday, October 3rd, 2016 , Total Page Views: 650
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