The Detroit Pistons have announced a Black History Month celebration kicking off for the entire month of February. Through a variety of activations and partnerships, they will honor the achievements and impact of Black Americans in this country and in the team's hometown of Detroit. To begin the commemoration of Black History Month, the Pistons have launched a special collaboration to honor the legacy of the late civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

“Mrs. Parks would be pleased with the Pistons' celebration of her legacy and, more importantly, with its outreach to the community,” said Elaine Steele, longtime friend of Mrs. Parks and co-founder of the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. “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.”

Following her passing in 2005, Detroit bus seats were adorned with black ribbons to honor Parks' life, activism and advancement of the civil rights movement in the United States. In collaboration with the Rosa Parks Estate, Priority Health and The Knight Foundation, the Pistons basketball club will provide free bus fares for Detroit residents across the city to celebrate Mrs. Parks’ birthday on February 4 and February 7. They have created a special Rosa Parks commemorative merchandise line to accompany this celebration as well.

Also, five hundred jackets were gifted to bus drivers and staff from the Detroit Department of Transportation this week at a ceremony held at the Rosa Parks Transit Center. These jackets will be worn by city bus drivers on February 4. Two of the buses that will be in service will be wrapped in Rosa Parks-inspired artwork created by local artist Desiree Kelly. Four bus shelters located at SB Woodward at State Fair, WB Jefferson at E Grand Blvd., SB Gratiot at E. Grand Blvd, and EB Grand River at Livernois will also feature this artwork. Additionally, each driver will be gifted free tickets to an upcoming Pistons home game.

Representatives from the Detroit Pistons and bus drivers showcase one of the commemorative jackets created in Rosa Parks' honor. Image: courtesy of the Detroit Pistons.
Detroit bus drivers stand in front of the commemorative buses commissioned in Rosa Parks' honor. Image: Detroit Pistons

“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.”

High school seniors in Detroit will have an opportunity to earn $50,000 in scholarships at the Pistons 17th Annual Black History Month Scholarship Event where . Additionally, the Pistons will host a “HBCU Night” at Little Caesars Arena when the Pistons host the Boston Celtics on February 26. Lastly, the team will visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. on February 28 to honor prominent Detroit creatives and leaders in our community during game nights throughout the month.