Rosa Parks family home to be offered at auction this summer

Visitors view the rebuilt house of Rosa Parks, where she sought refuge in Detroit after fleeing the South, at the WaterFire Arts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. (AP)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Rosa Parks family home to be offered at auction this summer

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island: The house where Rosa Parks sought refuge after fleeing the South will be offered at auction after being turned into a work of art and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean twice.
Guernsey’s auctioneers said it will offer the house where Parks’ family lived in a midsummer auction in New York City that also will feature several other items related to African-American history and culture. It said it expects the tiny wood-framed house marked with peeling paint to fetch seven figures.
The house, owned by Parks’ brother, was abandoned and set for demolition in Detroit before Parks’ niece, Rhea McCauley, bought it for $500 and donated it to American artist Ryan Mendoza in an attempt to preserve the legacy of the civil rights activist. Mendoza shipped it to his home in Berlin and reassembled it in his yard, where it drew a steady stream of visitors.
Mendoza brought it back to the US this year for a temporary exhibit in Rhode Island, but he had been searching for a permanent home. The delicate structure should only be rebuilt one more time, he said.
“It’s a wonderful way to present the house again to the American people. Let them decide what this house is worth,” Mendoza said. “I hope it ends up in the hands of somebody who loves Rosa Parks. I hope it will be on public display.”
The pieces of the house, currently in Providence, will be taken in two, 40-foot (12-meter) shipping containers to a storage area in Massachusetts on Friday, Mendoza said.
Parks moved to Detroit in 1957, two years after refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger in Montgomery, Alabama. Her family says Parks stayed in her brother’s home with 17 other relatives.
Arlan Ettinger, of Guernsey’s auctioneers, said the house was not much to look at but is a “national treasure” for what it represents. Guernsey’s handled the sale of Parks’ personal archives after her death for $4.5 million, and Ettinger noted that collection is now in the Library of Congress. He said that “almost guarantees that nothing of hers of any importance will ever surface again” for sale.
“As the guy who sold a guitar recently for nearly $4 million, a baseball for nearly $3 million, there is no baseball, no guitar as important as this house,” he said.
The proceeds from the sale will go in part to a foundation set up by McCauley to help preserve her aunt’s legacy, Mendoza and Guernsey’s said.
As part of the same auction, Guernsey’s also will sell items including two pages of notes handwritten by Parks describing her first encounter with Martin Luther King Jr., in which she writes that “I knew I would never forget him;” Alex Haley’s manuscript of “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” including handwritten notes by Malcolm X and Haley; and the first recording contract for the Jackson Five and Michael Jackson, signed by their father, Joe Jackson, in 1967 with Steeltown Records.


How bonobo mothers help their sons find love

In this file photo taken on November 4, 2006 in the "Lola ya bonobo" parc near Kinshasa shows young bonobos, living only in the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC). (AFP)
Updated 36 min 51 sec ago
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How bonobo mothers help their sons find love

  • Bonobo mothers did not go the extra mile for their daughters, nor did they help their daughters raise offspring

WASHINGTON: Anyone who’s experienced a mother pushing them to get a move on and produce grandkids might just sympathize with this.
A new study has described the outsized role bonobo moms play in their sons’ sex lives: from pulling rank to ensure their male offspring get to meet attractive ovulating females, to interfering with male rivals’ attempts to mate.
The paper was published Monday in the journal Current Biology and found that bonobo males whose mothers were alive and remained in their group were three times more likely to father children.
And the authors credited the success of the “wingmoms” on the nature of bonobos’ female-dominant societies, which have long been known for their altruistic and peaceful character, in contrast to more violent and patriarchal chimpanzees.
“This is the first time that we can show the impact of the mother’s presence on a very important male fitness trait, which is their fertility,” co-author Martin Surbeck, a primatologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany said in a statement.
“We were surprised to see that the mothers have such a strong, direct influence on the number of grandchildren they get.”
For the study, Surbeck and colleagues observed wild bonobo populations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as wild populations of chimpanzees in Ivory Coast, Tanzania, and Uganda.
To verify paternity, they collected the primates’ droppings for DNA analysis.

They found that while both bonobo and chimpanzee mothers attempted to assist their sons, bonobos were far more successful because their communities’ highest ranks are dominated by females.
Chimpanzee communities on the other hand are dominated by males who compete for alpha status.
The two species together are humans’ closest relatives in the animal kingdom and share about 99 percent of our DNA.
“The bonobo moms act a bit like social passports,” Surbeck told AFP.
“The sons, in close proximity to their moms, are also very central in the group and access positions in the group that allow them to interact more with other females including copulation.”
“If there’s a female who’s very attractive, you see moms stick around them, and in the shadow of their moms are the males,” he added.
By contrast, they found that if a mother lost her high rank, her son also fell in rank and was subsequently less successful in his mating attempts.
In addition to intervening in their sons’ rivals attempt to mate, bonobo mothers also protected their own sons from the efforts of rivals to disrupt courting and sex.

Interestingly, bonobo mothers did not go the extra mile for their daughters, nor did they help their daughters raise offspring.
Surbeck believes that, since bonobo daughters leave the community and males remain behind, it may simply not be worth the mothers’ time and efforts from an evolutionary perspective.
One thing the team believes they may now have tentative evidence for is the so-called “grandmother hypothesis“: that a post-reproductive female can increase her own lifespan and continue her genes by ensuring her offspring’s reproductive success.
It is an idea that anthropologists have applied to humans and Surbeck believes it could also be the case for bonobo populations.
“The interesting thing now is in bonobos we have such a mechanism, apparently allowing the females to do that, but intriguingly not through their daughters but their sons,” he told AFP.
Moving forward, Surbeck said he would like to confirm through more long-term research the benefits of the behavior on the longevity of mothers, and find out whether mothers exhibit welcoming behavior to new female arrivals in the community who go on to become their sons’ mates.
More broadly, he said, studying the differences between gender egalitarian and largely peaceful bonobo societies, in which members practice both heterosexual and homosexual sex to strengthen social bonds; versus alpha-male led chimpanzee societies, could yield clues about our own evolutionary past.
“One has to be clear — we did not evolve from bonobos or chimpanzees but we share with them a common ancestry,” said Surbeck.
“Comparing us with our closest living relatives might give some idea about traits which could evolve under selective pressures.”