For more than a decade, the late founder of Little Ceasers and owner of the Detroit Tigers paid rent for a civil rights leader.
Mike Ilitch learned that Rosa Parks, who after taking her historically defiant seat during a 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., had moved to Detroit and was robbed and assaulted in her home in 1994, according to CNN affiliate WXYZ. Parks was 81-years-old.
When he read about the attack on Parks, Ilitch reached out to Damon Keith, a Detroit native and federal judge who was a legal figure in the civil rights movement, and quietly offered to pay her rent, CNN affiliate WXYZ reported. He continued to pay rent for her downtown Detroit apartment until Parks died in 2005, Keith told WXYZ.
“They don’t go around saying it, but I want to, at this point, let them know, how much the Ilitches not only meant to the city, but they meant so much for Rosa Parks, who was the mother of the civil rights movement,” Keith told WXYZ.
The story was originally reported in Sports Business Daily in February 2014, when “Keith showed the reporter a copy of a 1994 check for $2,000 from Little Caesars Enterprises to Riverfront Apartments,” WXYZ reported.
Ilitch, 87, died Friday, and the story has since resurfaced, gaining traction on social media as members of the Detroit community remember his life.