Detroit icon paid Rosa Parks’ rent

The mark of true charity is that which occurs without fanfare.

Mike Ilitch, who died last Friday, provided an example that only is becoming known — or at least, well known — after his death.

He paid Rosa Parks’ rent.

Ilitch, who founded the Little Caesars pizza chain and owned the Detroit Tigers and Red Wings, started paying the civil rights’ icons rent after she was robbed in Detroit.

The Sports Business Daily first revealed the charity in 2014.

On Aug. 31, 1994, Parks, then 81, was robbed and assaulted in her home in central Detroit. (US Court of Appeals judge Judge Damon) Keith called real estate developer Alfred Taubman, the owner of Riverfront Apartments, about finding a safer home for Parks. Taubman pledged to find the best home available.

When Ilitch read about Keith’s plan and Taubman’s promise in the newspaper, he called the judge and said he would pay for Parks’ housing for as long as necessary. (Parks passed away in 2005 at the age of 92). Keith served as the executor of the trust established for Parks’ housing.

  • dave

    From Wikipedia: At the time, Parks was secretary of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP. She had recently attended the Highlander Folk School, a Tennessee center for training activists for workers’ rights and racial equality. She acted as a private citizen “tired of giving in”.

    To my mind, the fact she planned the action of being arrested for sitting in the white section of the bus, knowing full well the likely aftermath is even more heroic than “her feet were just tired”.

    The bus boycott caused a lot of hardship for the blacks, but the businessmen eventually advocated to stop their profit losses and thus the Social Change was made.

    Some today would charge Rosa Parks for the cost of police time used to arrest her, thus putting her home at risk in addition to a misdemeanor. Not even the worst Southern Sheriff thought that was fair.

    • MrE85

      “Not even the worst Southern Sheriff thought that was fair.”
      You never met Bull Connor.

      • dave

        I don’t know Bull Connor, but I doubt he ever thought of charging civil rights protesters for his time (spent while wielding his baton against their heads).

  • Bob Sinclair

    This doesn’t surprise me about Mr Illitch. Having worked for Little Caesars in the 80’s and for a time in the corporate office, his concern for the welfare of his employees was legendary. He was an amazing man and he will be missed.