2017-02-15 Little Caesars founder Mike Ilitch quietly paid Rosa Parks' rent during the final years of her life
Rosa Parks receiving the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor with Vice President Al Gore in 1999.
Little Caesars Pizza founder Mike Ilitch, who recently passed away, is known for both his business acumen and contributions to the city of Detroit. What many folks didn’t know is that the billionaire actually paid Rosa Parks’ rent for over a decade until her passing.
After the civil rights icon was robbed and assaulted in her home, Federal Court of Appeals Judge Damon Keith recruited real estate developer Alfred Taubman to help him find Parks new, safer housing. When Ilitch read about the plans in the newspaper, he contacted the judge and pledged to pay her rent for as long as necessary. Ilitch paid Parks’ rent for over a decade until her passing in 2005.
The Sports Business Journal spoke with Judge Keith in 2014:
“It’s for $2,000, dated November the first, 1994. It’s from Little Caesars Enterprises to Riverfront Apartments, and I know it was just one of many,” said Keith, 91, who has been a U.S. Court of Appeals judge in Detroit for the last 46 years. “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.”
“Mike Ilitch is totally committed to Detroit,” Keith said. “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.”
Apparently this isn’t a rare occurrence for Ilitch. The billionaire reportedly has a history of (quietly) using his wealth for good, which is a sharp departure from the wealthy White House and Cabinet members currently trying to run America into the ground.