Should the Rosa Parks House Remain in Europe? Locating the Black Family Across the Atlantic

Kristin Kopp

School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

University of Missouri

In 2017, the American-born, Berlin-based artist, Ryan Mendoza, undertook a project that challenges the ways we understand the location of both Black history and the Black family. In an attempt to save Rosa Park’s former Detroit house from demolition by the city, Mendoza dismantled it, shipped it to Germany, and rebuilt it in his own back yard. Debates ensued about the meaning and rightful location of this house: while it has now twice traveled back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean and is currently in Naples, Italy, Rosa Park’s Detroit house has yet to find a permanent home.

As it continues its travels across the Atlantic, the Rosa Parks house raises new questions about the historical connections between Europe, Germany, the Civil Rights movement, and the Black diaspora – a complex, intertwined history that considers the Black family in a transatlantic context.

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Image credits: The Rosa Parks house installation in Naples, Italy