Detroit Urban Spartacus Kelly Parker Reminded Us Of What We Can Accomplish If We Stand Up And Fight


The graffiti Kelly Parker sprayed on her house to deter bidding during Wayne County's tax auction.
The graffiti Kelly Parker sprayed on her house to deter bidding during Wayne County’s tax auction.

In the dystopian post-industrial ruins of Detroit where hundreds of thousands of people fight to survive, Urban Spartacus Kelly Parker rose above the poor timid souls that inhabit what was once the “Arsenal of Democracy”

This Urban Spartacus did something that heroes are made of and something that embodies the spirit of what once made Detroit great. Like an urban Spartacus, she stood her ground and fought back against the injustice of a corrupt political system run by political elites that would just assume cast her and her sons aside in order line their pockets with kickbacks and bribes.

In the summer of 2012, after Kelly was diagnosed with cancer, she was informed Wayne County was putting her home up for tax auction because Bank of America abandoned the servicing of her mortgage and neglected to pay the taxes that she had escrowed for 2009 and 2010.

Kelly, the Urban Spartacus, could have taken the easy path and hightailed to the lily white suburbs of Detroit like the millions of people before her. Instead, she decided to stand her ground and fought like an Urban Spartacus one of the most corrupt county governments in the United States.

With limited options and no money, Kelly was forced to get creative. She spray painted her house with graffiti messages like, “A Family Lives Here and We’re NOT Leaving”, “KEEP OUT” and “Our home”

This Urban Spartacus protest of spray painting her house with graffiti and yard signs to discourage potential buyers from buying her home inspired her neighbors and others including myself to join her crusade.

Everyone bombarded Detroit media and every elected official in the Detroit metropolitan area with her story.

Kelly Parker when she was Mojo In The Morning last October.
Kelly Parker when she was on Mojo In The Morning last October.

Kelly’s one act of defiance, led to Fox2 in Detroit and other media outlets to begin airing her story. This led to the Wayne County Treasurer’s office receiving phone calls from nearly 1500 angry Wayne County residents threatening to throw Wayne County Treasurer Raymond Wojtowicz out of office in the upcoming November election if he didn’t help Kelly. Nearly 150 international media outlets contacted Wayne County Assistant Treasurer David Szymanski asking to make a statement.

After nearly a month of every politician in Wayne County ignoring Kelly’s pleas for help, the corrupt and incompetent elected officials in Wayne County government and the inept business people that run Bank of America were finally forced to deal with her.

After 3 days of negotiating with Bank of America, Bank of America agreed to a cash settlement and after 30 days, the Wayne County agreed to sell Kelly back her house for $500.

As an Urban Spartacus, Kelly was able to keep her house but for her the fight wasn’t over. She wanted make sure others didn’t get jerked around by the county or the City of Detroit like she was.

When I wrote a piece about the City of Detroit assessing properties using inflated pre-financial crisis figures, Kelly printed the article, made 5000 copies and between her Chemotherapy and radiation treatments made her sister and son drive her around northwest Detroit to place it on every door and car windshield she could find.

Soon after Kelly did this, the Detroit News ran a series of article on the tax issues facing Detroit property owners.

This five foot tall little red head loved life and lived intensely in everything she did. She was not afraid of anything and would let no one stand in her way if it meant standing for what was right or protecting her two boys.

Kelly never stopped fighting until early this morning when she lost her battle with cancer.

We loved Kelly Parker as a sister, daughter, a mom and as our friend. She may not have been an astronaut, an athlete, a preacher, a politician or a teacher but she was our hero and our inspiration.

Kelly gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. She reminded us that one person can improve the lot of others and that anyone regardless of their background or status can take on a corrupt government and win.

She was and always will be by our side.

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