Rosa Parks fled the American South for Detroit in the 1950s at the height of her civil rights struggle. Now the house where she sought asylum has itself found refuge in a city an ocean away: Berlin.
US artist Ryan Mendoza, who is based in the German capital, helped rescue the dilapidated two-storey structure from the wrecking ball and rebuilt it board by board in his garden. This week he will invite the public to have a look.
Mendoza, 45, says the house’s odyssey holds up a mirror to two societies: his bitterly divided homeland grappling with the rise of President Donald Trump, and Germany, where more than a million people fleeing war and misery have sought asylum in the last two years.
“By disregarding this house, the United States has shown a disregard for civil rights,” Mendoza said, as he gave AFP a preview of the reconstructed clapboard structure in the city’s ethnically diverse Wedding district.
“Civil rights are not just important for black people but also for white people who want to differentiate themselves from their racist forefathers. The Germans completely understand what this house has to say.”
Having lived in Europe for more than two decades, Mendoza said Berlin’s earnest reckoning with its own dark history as well as a mood of “love and tolerance” made it the right haven for the house.—APP