DETROIT — Rosa Parks’ landlord has offered to let her stay in her apartment rent-free, two years after threatening to evict her when the owners said her caretakers missed rental payments.
Parks’ doctors say the 91-year-old civil rights pioneer has dementia and is in poor health. Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit had been paying Parks’ rent, which had been as high as $1,800 a month, since August 2003, the Rev. Charles Adams said.
“We did not want her set out in the street,” Adams said. “We didn’t want to make a big noise out of it. ... It was a simple act of kindness.”
In an October letter, Riverfront Associates, which owns the apartment where Parks has lived since 1994, said she could stay for free for the rest of her life.
“I thought it was the right thing to do,” managing partner Peter Cummings told the Detroit Free Press for Monday’s editions. “This woman is an icon. She deserves an enormous amount of respect. In a way, I think it’s an honor to be able to accord her that respect.”
Parks was 42 when she refused to give up her seat on a city bus in Montgomery, Ala., in 1955. Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organized by a then little-known Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
More recently, Parks’ lawyers have filed two suits involving the hip-hop duo OutKast and their record company, BMG, over a song titled “Rosa Parks.” They seek a total of $5 billion.
Elaine Steele, who manages the nonprofit Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute, told the newspaper that Parks gets proper care and eviction notices were sent in error in 2002.
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