The former Detroit home of civil rights figure, Rosa Parks, is now on display in the Royal Palace courtyard in Naples. This display, known as Almost Home, is a part of a Berlin-based artist Ryan Mendoza’s efforts to bring attention to this incredible woman’s legacy.
The house’s story begins with the birth of Parks in 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Parks grew up during a time when harsh segregation laws were in place throughout the South. These laws dedicated that black citizens could not intermingle with whites, which resulted in separate schools, churches, areas in theaters, and seats on public transport.
In 1955, Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger. It was a common practice to force back people to give up their seats to white people when the buses became too full. On this particular day, Parks had decided enough was enough and remained in her seat. Her arrest and eventual trial lit a fire in the black community, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott began.
As Parks’ name became more well-known, death threats began pouring in, forcing her, along with her brother and his family, to leave the South. They settled in Detroit and lived in a tiny two-story home. In total, 17 people resided in the structure at one time. Parks passed away in 2005, and the house was abandoned during the economic crash of 2008. However, Parks’ niece, Rhea McCauley, saved the structure from demolition when she purchased it in 2014.
Mendoza heard about McCauley’s efforts and reached out to her, which eventually led to McCauley gifting Mendoza the house in 2017. In was then disassembled, shipped to his studio in Berlin, where he then reassembled the structure. Since then, the Parks’ Home has been on display in Germany’s capital city, until its recent arrival in Naples.
Mendoza continues to search for a permanent site for the home back in the United States but finds it ironic the home is located on palace grounds.
He said, “Instead of being rejected by the walls of the royal palace, it’s embraced and protected by these walls. [Hopefully] thanks to the showing of the house in this way, America will allow the house to have a home.”