If you’ve spent any time on Facebook lately, you may have noticed Little Caesars’ founder Mike Ilitch and civil rights icon Rosa Parks have been trending on Facebook.
Did Little Caesars’ founder Mike Ilitch recently do something good or bad to attract media attention? Is Little Caesars running a new promotion? Has a significant anniversary related to Rosa Parks recently passed? No, not exactly.
Per Dead State, the reason Little Caesars’ founder Mike Ilitch and civil rights icon Rosa Parks have been trending on Facebook is because a story has been circulating about the two individuals. The story claims the pizza chain founder paid the civil rights icon’s rent for a little more than a decade.
The story, reported by multiple media outlets, started to make its rounds a few days ago – and the Little Caesars’ founder Mike Ilitch had just passed away last Friday (February 10). The story claims that Mike silently paid Rosa Parks’ rent for 11 years until she passed away. The original story claims that the pizza chain founder made the decision to help Rosa Parks by paying her rent after he learned she had been assaulted and robbed in her home in Detroit back in 1994.
“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,” federal judge and Detroit resident Damon Keith told WXYZ.
After the robbery and assault, Damon Keith helped Rosa Parks look for a new place to live. When Mike Ilitch read about the story in the newspaper, he called Keith and offered to pay Rosa’s rent for as long as she needed. Without making a big fuss out of it, Mike proceeded to pay Rosa’s rent until 2005 when she passed away.
Dead State, however, has recently updated their story claiming the original story circulating media outlets isn’t exactly what happened. In fact, Aaron Foley for Black Life, Arts & Culture tells a slightly different story.
“Did the pizza magnate help with the living expenses for the civil rights icon? Yes. For how long? Well, not as long as some news outlets are claiming – and, for that matter, not as much as a contribution as implied.”
The other side of the story goes on to reveal that in 2002, Parks got behind on paying her rent. This was eight years after she first moved into her home in 1994 and just a few years before she died. Aaron Foley proceeds to point out the fact that while Ilitch did a lot for the city of Detroit and did contribute to the fund pooled by several different people to pay Rosa Parks’ rent for a period of time, there is no way he silently paid the rent for more than a decade. Foley goes on to note that Rosa wouldn’t have gotten behind in paying her rent in 2002 if the Little Caesars founder had truly been paying her rent all that time.
It has been documented that Hartford Memorial Baptist Church took on the responsibility of paying for a period of time which also makes it impossible for Mike Ilitch to have paid the rent for 11 years.
In December of 2004, the apartments Rosa Parks lived in offered her the opportunity to live rent free for the remainder of her stay in her apartment. Rosa proceeded to live in the apartment until she passed away in October of 2005. While 1994, when she first got the apartment, to 2005, when she died, is certainly 11 years, it would have been impossible for Mike Ilitch to have paid the rent the entire time.
Chances are pretty good the story of Little Caesars’ founder Mike Ilitch paying Rosa Park’s rent for 11 years is the reason the two individuals started to trend on Facebook. The fact that new information has poked some holes in the original story, however, is likely the reason why the story is still trending on Facebook.
What are your thoughts on the original story of Mike Ilitch paying Rosa Park’s rent and the updated story claiming media outlets are stretching the truth?
[Featured Image by Jorge Lemus/Getty Images]