Following the death of Little Caesars founder and owner Mike Ilitch, news of his philanthropic efforts surfaced revealing that, among many other endeavors, Ilitch had assisted civil rights icon Rosa Parks financially for a decade.
U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Damon Keith told WXYZ-TV Detroit Feb. 11 that the billionaire, who died Feb. 10 at age 87, and his wife heeded the call when Keith called on the community for help in 1994 when Parks was beaten and robbed by an intruder in her Detroit home. The Ilitches, whose combined net worth is estimated at $6.1 billion, sent a check covering Parks’ rent and they continued to do so until her death in 2005.
“I want to let everyone 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 the local outlet.
The Ilitches donated millions to Detroit’s Wayne State University and invested in Little Caesars Arena, the future home of the Detroit Red Wings as well. Keith credited the city’s economic resurgence after years of bankruptcy and rampant foreclosure to the couple.
“If it hadn’t been for them, Detroit would not be in the renaissance that they are in now,” Keith told CNN.