The Detroit Pistons are teaming up to offer free bus rides throughout Detroit on Feb. 4 and Feb. 7 in celebration of Black History Month and the birthday of civil rights icon Rosa Parks, the team announced.
The Pistons collaborated with the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development, Priority Health and the Knight Foundation to offer free bus service for Detroiters across the city on Feb. 4, Rosa Parks’ birthday.
Additionally, the team gifted 500 commemorative jackets to bus drivers and staff from the Detroit Department of Transportation and unveiled a bus adorned with Rosa Parks-inspired artwork created by local artist Desiree Kelly. Two buses will feature the artwork wrapped on the outside of the bus as well as four bus shelters in the city.
Parks, who passed away in 2005, spent much of her life in the city of Detroit and famously refused to give up her seats in the whites-only section of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She also worked as an administrative aide for Rep. John Conyers.
“Mrs. Parks’ heroism and activism helped initiate a civil rights movement that changed U.S. history and continues to this day,” said Pistons Chief Business Officer Mike 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.”
In addition to offering the free bus rides, the Pistons also announced a commemorative merchandise line celebrating Rosa Parks, and tickets to an upcoming Pistons game to the city’s bus drivers.
Elaine Steele, co-founder of the Rosa Parks estate lauded the partnership as a way to celebrate her longtime friend’s 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.”