Founder of Little Caesars Paid Rosa Parks’ Rent For More Than A Decade

Mike Ilitch quietly paid Rosa Parks' rent for more than a decade, until she passed away in 2005.


Most people know about Rosa Parks’ story, and how she is considered to be the mother of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. Few people know that a handful of people helped her out when they could, however, and one such individual was Mike Ilitch, the founder of Little Caesars.

For those who aren’t aware, Little Caesars is a popular pizza chain in the United States that sells $5 pizzas. Don’t expect the pizza pies to be the healthiest out there, but do expect them to satiate one’s appetite. Last Friday, Ilitch passed away, prompting many to remember his great qualities and his lesser-known achievements.

In addition to founding the pizza chain, he also owned the Detroit Tigers. However, it’s a repeated gesture he performed for Rosa Parks that has really earned him the spotlight this week. According to CNN affiliate WXYZ, Ilitch quietly paid for the civil rights activist’s downtown Detroit apartment for more than a decade.

The story surfaced thanks to Damon Keith, a Detroit native and federal judge. He 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.”

It was after Parks’ famed defiance of segregation on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama, that she moved to Detroit and became an important figure in the city for years. Keith, as well, served as a recognizable legal figure and worked to find Parks a new, safer apartment after she was robbed and assaulted at the age of 81. That’s when she moved into the Riverfront Apartments.

When Ilitch read the story about Parks, he contacted Keith and offered to pay for her housing indefinitely. Up until the date Rosa died in 2005, her rent was taken care of. This news was made public in 2014 when Keith showed a reporter with Sports Business Daily a check for $2,000 from Little Caesars Enterprises to the Apartment estate.

Ilitch is remembered as a kind samaritan who did his best to improve the city of Detroit. Now, he is also being celebrated for assisting one of the most recognizable civil rights activists. What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

This article (Founder of Little Caesars Paid Rosa Parks’ Rent For More Than A Decade) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and

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