The Detroit Pistons announced a collaboration with the Rosa Parks Estate to celebrate one of the most significant civil rights leaders to kick off their Black History Month activities. Mrs. Parks relocated to Detroit in 1957 and worked as an administrative aide in Congressman John Conyers Jr.’s Detroit office from 1965 to 1988. In 1987, she co-founded the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, which assisted Detroit’s kids.

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Mike Zavodsky, the Pistons’ Chief Business Officer, praised the team’s partnership and collaboration with the Rosa Parks Estate as part of the organization’s Black History Month celebrations and reaffirmed the team’s commitment to serving the Detroit community, advancing social justice, and improving educational opportunities for the city’s youth.

“Mrs. Parks’ heroism and activism helped initiate a civil rights movement that changed U.S. history and continues to this day,” said Zavodsky. “We are honored to kick off the beginning of this year’s Black History Month in collaboration with the Rosa Parks Estate.  As we celebrate her life and place in our nation’s history, recent events demonstrate that significant work remains to advance equality and social justice for all.  Our organization will continue finding ways to enhance economic opportunity, enrich youth education and support voting rights.” 


500 coats were given to bus drivers and staff from the Detroit Department of Transportation earlier today at the Rosa Parks Transit Center (DDOT). On February 4, city bus drivers will don these coats. Each driver will be given free tickets to an upcoming Pistons home game as a show of appreciation for their hard work and dedication to the city of Detroit, and a number of them will be recognized in-game on February 4 when the Detroit Pistons take on the Boston Celtics. Finally, two DDOT buses and four bus shelters will be draped with Rosa Parks-inspired artwork made by local artist Desiree Kelly.


Mrs. Parks’ lifelong friend and co-founder of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development, Elaine Steele, called the collaboration a “celebration of Rosa Parks’ legacy.”

“Mrs. Parks would be pleased with the Pistons’ celebration of her legacy and, more importantly, with its outreach to the community,” said Mrs. Steele.  “As Mrs. Parks said, her mistreatment on the bus did not begin with her arrest in 1955 — she ‘did a lot of walking in Montgomery’.  Today, the public buses in the City of Detroit provide a critical artery for transport in the region and are ridden, driven and administrated by folks who will never be forced to the back of the bus again.”

“Detroit is honored to be a part of Mrs. Parks’ legacy,” says C. Mikel Oglesby, Detroit’s Executive Director of Transit. “DDOT was one of the transit agencies to honor her after her death with black ribbons on the front seats of our buses. And when the new transit center opened downtown in 2009, it was a no-brainer to name it after her.” 

“DDOT could not function without our dedicated operators,” he adds. “We’re thrilled to work with the Pistons to help recognize the hard work of our operators on Mrs. Parks’ birthday and every day.”