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Mike Ilitch Paid Rosa Parks’ Rent For Years

The Detroit Red Wings honored their late owner Mike Ilitch Wednesday night before their game against the St. Louis Blues at The Joe.

It also came out yesterday that Ilitch quietly made sure that civil rights legend Rosa Parks was made to feel appreciated.

The Detroit Red Wings last night paid homage to the man who resurrected the franchise in the ’90s, Mike Ilitch with a lovely ceremony before a game they then lost, 2-0 to the Blues.  (You’re supposed to win the game you’ve dedicated to somebody, don’t they know that?)

Ilitch also owned the Detroit Tigers and made the words ‘Pizza! Pizza!’ famous with his Little Caesar’s pizza chain.

But CNN reported this week that Ilitch’s heart went beyond sports and pizza. Damon Keith, a Detroit judge and Civil Rights crusader told CNN affliate WXYZ that Ilitch quietly paid for Rosa Parks’ apartment in downtown Detroit for years.

Parks, who refused to give up her seat on a Birmingham, AL city bus in 1955, setting into motion the rise of the modern civil rights movement, was assaulted in her Detroit home in 1994. Keith led a public campaign to find Parks a safe spot to live, that’s when Ilitch stepped up privately and offered to pay for her housing costs for the rest of her life. Parks died in 2005 at the age of 92.

The story originally surfaced in 2014 in an article in Sports Business Journal.

“It’s important that people know what Mr. Mike Ilitch did for Ms. Rosa Parks because it’s symbolic of what he has always done for the people of our city.”Keith told SBJ.

“He brought the Little Caesars corporate offices here. He saved the Fox Theatre. He built Comerica Park, and he kept the hockey and baseball teams thriving here when times were tough. But of all the incredible things he has done for the city, people should know what he did for Rosa Parks.”

Grand Rapids honored Parks in by naming the Monroe Mall Ampitheater downtown after her in May 2001. The park was designed by May Lin, who also designed the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial in Washington DC. A statue of Parks was dedicated at the entrance in 2010.

Plaque honoring Praks in Grand Rapids (Jojo Girard/TSM)
Plaque honoring Praks in Grand Rapids (Jojo Girard/TSM)

 

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