The recent controversy over the “Rosa Parks House,” raises the question – was this a teachable moment or a profitable opportunity ? As a deep line was drawn in the sand between Brown’s reneging on the project and cultural/political community members taking up the banner – let’s take a step back and ask what happened here?
First Brown’s brief and inadequate statement did not fully explain very real concerns about the undisclosed physical condition of the house whose toxic emissions would have made it unsafe for the public; and
The artist’s declaration that this had some implication about a lack of social consciousness opened a very ugly door – not about our commitment to civil rights – but allowed local culture profiteers to point a finger at The Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice as culprit. Frankly, the decision to step away from this project largely rests in misrepresentations made by the artist and a descendant of the Parks family about the true history of the house. The decision to drop the project was well above CSSJ’s pay grade.
Let’s take a breath. We can surmise that zealous members of our First President’s family, who saw an opportunity (whether for profit or posterity) claimed he had slept in many places too. But let’s be clear the “Rosa Parks House” exhibit was not about the underground railroad, civics or the ole town versus gown debate –it was just a case of George Washington Slept Here . . .