A Touching Story About Rosa Parks and Mike Ilitch

Everyone knows the story of Rosa Parks, or at least everyone should. In 1954 she was the brave soul who refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white man. You see, in Montgomery and many other places in the south, whites sat in the front of the bus and blacks sat in the back. On this particular day, Rosa sat in the middle-back. When the bus got crowded, a white man wanted her seat. Sadly, according to the law, Rosa had to give up her seat. Rosa had just worked all day. She was tired. She was fed up with this unjust law. So, when the bus driver stopped the bus and demanded she give up her seat, Rosa refused. She did not speak. She did not move. She was then arrested by the Montgomery police.

This was the true beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. A few days later, a 24-year-old Dr. Martin Luther King was nominated as the president of the Montgomery Improvement Association. For the next 385 days, no black person in Montgomery rode the bus. They all walked, mile after mile, day after day. By banding together, they created power, ultimately forcing the city of Montgomery to give in to their demands. This model of non-violent resistance, started by Rosa Parks and Dr. King, served as the blueprint of change for other cities. Jim Crow died a slow, yet permanent death in the South.

This is an oversimplified history lesson, but one that everyone should know. However, here is something you probably don’t know. Rosa Parks lived out the rest of her life in Detroit. She didn’t have a lot of money, so she lived in a rough part of Detroit. In 1984, at the age of 81, Rosa was robbed and assaulted in her home. This civil rights hero was attacked. How absolutely awful.

Mike Ilitch, Little Caesars founder and owner of the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Redwings, read about this disgusting attack in the newspaper. He helped to move Rosa to a safer home. He then paid her rent for the next 11 years. Until the day she died, Ilitch quietly paid $2,000 a month to keep Rosa safe.

Joe’s Perspective: On MLK holiday, I tell this story to show the beauty of humanity. In a way, this story shows how far we have come since 1954. Racism will never fully disappear. There will always be people who discriminate, stereotype and hate. However, progress occurred. Mike Ilitch, a white man, helped a black woman. He just knew it was the right thing to do. Rosa Parks deserved better. She was and is a treasure to this country. This story makes me proud to be an American. I like knowing that the mother of the civil rights movement lived out her years with dignity and respect.

Your Turn: What are your thoughts on this story?

Comments 45

  1. I think this goes to show that no good thing will go around without being seen. Your well being will be rewarded because people value what you sacrificed.

  2. I think it was an great idea for Mitch to help Rosa. He wanted to keep her name alive so people can forever remember who she was.

  3. Mike choosing to do that should pure humility, especially at those times when doing an act of such was almost unheard of!!

  4. I think Mitch was very helpful towards Rosa . She really deserved better for standing up for her self, so for him to do that was great.

  5. I think Mitch was very helpful towards Rosa . She really deserved better for standing up for her self, so for him to do that was great

  6. I think Rosa definitely deserved all the stuff Mike gave her, I can’t believe she was living a tough life even after she became a historical icon. Mike did an amazing thing and the right thing.

  7. This is a historic story that everyone has heard, especially in regards to nonviolent protest. Parks not only was willing to stand up for what she believed in she stopped at nothing, to the point where she was arrested and still did not back down. Parks prioritized change for her people over any of her personal consequences.

  8. Rosa park definitely deserves all the respect she can get. Mike helped her by paying for her bills until she died. Rosa parks has made one of the best impacts on America

  9. I think it was great idea that Mitch did that because no other person would have done that to her especially as a black women. it was brave and very selfless of him.

  10. I think that this shows how people were tired about how things where and wanted a change. And how Mike still payed to keep her safe even after she had died.

  11. I feel like it was very generous and heart warming for him to do that to Rosa not even because she is a historical figure mainly because its the right thing to do .

  12. The help that Mike showed Rosa was very helpful and kind. He will be seen as a very respected man for all to remember.

  13. I think this story is great representation on how much America has changed. Helping one another even when we aren’t the same is great.

  14. I think Mike did a great thing for Rosa. That act of kindness was truly amazing, and it’s a good example of how we should treat other people.

  15. Mike did the right thing, knowing that a women who already went through so much is being treated poorly still. Rosa deserved what Mike did and Mike is a great person because of it.

  16. Mike did a good deed, knowing that a women who already went through so much is being treated poorly still. Rosa deserved what Mike did and Mike is a great person because of it.

  17. I think that was a very nice thing for Mike to do. After everything Rosa went through, she deserved something thoughtful like this.

  18. I like this story because instead of just echoing the same story that one hears about Rosa parks, we learned about how there was good in the mist of evil. This man that showers Rosa parks kindness was a man that decided to go out of his way and defy and condemn racism by crossing his paths with a woman who was looked down upon and targeted by racists. Overall, this story is refreshing

  19. I think this is an awesome story. Mike is an awesome person for helping out such an influential person in our history. With everything she went through I would imagine Mikes gesture meant a lot to her.

  20. I think it was very touching how Mike helped Rosa by paying her rent up until her death. It shows how he never forget how she helped the racial movement progress.

  21. They are both amazing, brave ppl standing up for what they believed was right. What Mike did for Rosa was something rlly good and I wish ppl would still keep doing good in this life age.

  22. I wholeheartedly agree. This event was a prime example of kindness, and of humanity’s ability to provide for its kin and peers.

  23. Mike Ilitch, Little Caesars founder and owner of the Detroit Pistons and Detroit Redwings, read about this disgusting attack in the newspaper. He helped to move Rosa to a safer home. He then paid her rent for the next 11 years. Until the day she died, Ilitch quietly paid $2,000 a month to keep Rosa safe.

  24. I think that what Mike did was very kind because not a whole lot of people were kind to her and to be kind when no one else is is a very good thing indeed.

  25. I think Rosa Parks was a wonderful woman and her being attacked like that is horrid and wrong and the guy is truly amazing for being so kind.

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