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
0

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.


Army splits with West Point grad who touted communist revolt

In this May 2016 photo provided by Spenser Rapone, Rapone displays a shirt bearing the image of socialist icon Che Guevara under his uniform, after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. (AP)
Updated 20 June 2018
0

Army splits with West Point grad who touted communist revolt

  • “I would encourage all soldiers who have a conscience to lay down their arms and join me and so many others who are willing to stop serving the agents of imperialism and join us in a revolutionary movement”
  • Less than a year after Rapone’s images drew a firestorm of vitriol and even death threats, the second lieutenant who became known as the “commie cadet” is officially out of the US Army with an other-than-honorable discharge

WATERTOWN, New York: The images Spenser Rapone posted on Twitter from his West Point graduation were intentionally shocking: In one, the cadet opens his dress uniform to expose a T-shirt with a blood-red image of socialist icon Che Guevara. In another, he raises his fist and flips his cap to reveal the message: “Communism will win.”
Less than a year after Rapone’s images drew a firestorm of vitriol and even death threats, the second lieutenant who became known as the “commie cadet” is officially out of the US Army with an other-than-honorable discharge.
Top brass at Fort Drum accepted Rapone’s resignation Monday after an earlier reprimand for “conduct unbecoming of an officer.” Rapone said an investigation found he went online to advocate for a socialist revolution and disparage high-ranking officers. Officially, the Army said in a statement only that it conducted a full investigation and “appropriate action was taken.”
An unrepentant Rapone summed up the fallout in yet another tweet Monday that showed him extending a middle finger at a sign at the entrance to Fort Drum, accompanied by the words, “One final salute.”
“I consider myself a revolutionary socialist,” the 26-year-old Rapone told The Associated Press. “I would encourage all soldiers who have a conscience to lay down their arms and join me and so many others who are willing to stop serving the agents of imperialism and join us in a revolutionary movement.”
Rapone said his journey to communism grew out of his experiences as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan before he was accepted into the U.S. Military Academy. And those views only hardened during his studies of history as one of the academy’s “Long Gray Line.”
He explained that he took the offending selfies at his May 2016 West Point graduation ceremony and kept them to himself until last September, when he tweeted them in solidarity with NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was taking heat for kneeling for the national anthem to raise awareness of racism. Many other military personnel also tweeted in favor of Kaepernick, although most were supporting free speech, not communism.
West Point released a statement after Rapone posted the photos, saying his actions “in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army.” And U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, called on the secretary of the Army to remove Rapone from the officer ranks.
“While in uniform, Spenser Rapone advocated for communism and political violence, and expressed support and sympathy for enemies of the United States,” Rubio said Monday, adding “I’m glad to see that they have given him an ‘other-than-honorable’ discharge.”
One of six children growing up in New Castle, Pennsylvania, Rapone said he applied to West Point, which is tuition-free, because he couldn’t afford college. He was nominated out of high school by then-U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire in 2010.
“He was an honors student, an athlete, a model citizen who volunteered in the community,” recalled Altmire, a Democrat. “During the interview, he expressed patriotism and looked just like a top-notch candidate. There were no red flags of any kind.”
But he wasn’t accepted to West Point, so Rapone enlisted in the Army. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and was assigned as an assistant machine gunner in Khost Province.
“We were bullies in one of the poorest countries on Earth,” Rapone said. “We have one of the most technologically advanced militaries of all time and all we were doing is brutalizing and invading and terrorizing a population that had nothing to do with what the United States claimed was a threat.”
Toward the end of his deployment, he learned West Point fulfills a certain quota of enlisted soldiers every year. Despite his growing disillusionment about the military, he applied and got in.
“I was still idealistic,” he said.” I figured maybe I could change things from inside.”
In addition to classic socialist theorists such as Karl Marx, Rapone says he found inspiration in the writings of Stan Goff, a retired Special Forces master sergeant who became a socialist anti-war activist.
Even while still a cadet, Rapone’s online postings alarmed a West Point history professor, who wrote Rapone up, saying his online postings were “red flags that cannot be ignored.” Rapone was disciplined but still allowed to graduate.
Greg Rinckey, an attorney specializing in military law, said it’s rare for an officer out of West Point to receive an other-than-honorable discharge. He added that it’s possible the military academy could seek repayment of the cost of Rapone’s education because he didn’t serve the full five-year service obligation required upon graduation.
“I knew there could be repercussions,” said Rapone, who is scheduled to speak at a socialism conference in Chicago next month. “Of course my military career is dead in the water. On the other hand, many people reached out and showed me support. There are a lot of veterans both active duty and not that feel like I do.”