26 October 2005

The Last Days of Rosa Parks

The president called her "one of the most inspiring
women of the 20th century."
Can’t argue with that.
But the 21st century wasn’t too kind to Rosa Parks.

Money woes plague legacy of Rosa Parks
Family wary of her caregivers' motives

November 23, 2004


Two charities created to preserve and protect the name
and legacy of civil rights legend Rosa Parks and her
late husband have spent the last seven years entangled
in lawsuits for nonpayment of bills, been slapped with
$25,000 in tax liens by the IRS and the state, and had
a vehicle repossessed.

In addition, Parks has twice received eviction notices
from her Detroit home, a Free Press investigation has

Parks' doctors have said the 91-year-old matriarch of
the modern civil rights movement is in poor health and
has dementia, a condition suggesting she is likely
unaware of the financial problems. She has rarely been
seen in public in recent years. Some of her family
members have questioned whether Parks is receiving
the care she deserves.

"We never had proof, but we always suspected
something was amiss with Auntie Rosa," said Rhea
McCauley, a niece who tried to become Parks' guardian
in 2002. "The way they're caring for our aunt is not
professional at all. They've virtually shut the family

. . .

Friends and family have fretted about Parks' well-being
for years. When her Detroit home was broken into and
she was assaulted in 1994, outraged business and
community leaders raised funds for Parks' relocation to
Riverfront Apartments, a luxurious, high-security

When she moved in, Archer, who was then Detroit's
mayor, welcomed Parks to the building and cited her
spectacular view of the Detroit River. He said her
surroundings offered "peace and tranquility."

But in 2002 -- in October and again in November -- the
complex took her to court for nonpayment of rent and
tried to evict her. Management filed complaints in 36th
District Court in Detroit, stating that Parks owed the
complex $4,471.

Steele said Parks' rent was paid. She said the eviction
notices were mistakenly filed and should have been
removed from court records. Steele said someone from
Riverfront's office told her that an error occurred, but
she couldn't supply the name of that person.

"I really don't want to discuss Mrs. Parks' personal
finances," said Steele, who would not say how Parks'
bills are paid. According to documents obtained by the
Free Press, Parks receives a pension from the Federal
Civil Service and Social Security benefits.

Nearly fifty years after “this humble seamstress stood up to
injustice,” how did America show its gratitude to Rosa Parks?

Go to the back of the bus.