The Youngest of the Three
Pioneering Ross Sisters
The three sisters: Barbara, Diana and Rita, were born and raised in the Mid-Town area of Detroit. They lived for a short time in the Brewster Douglas Projects, neighboring the Historic Black Bottom.
The three pioneering sisters made their mark: Barbara Ross Lee as the first African American female Dean of a United States Medical School, Diana Ross as one of the first world renown artist of the famed Motown Records, which created a sound that is uniquely and forever Detroit, and the younger sister Rita, as a community advocate in the City of Detroit.
Like her older sisters, Rita has broken barriers as well; she was one of the first women hired as a test driver at General Motors Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan, and was one of the first African American Stewardesses to "Fly the Friendly Skies" of Pan American International Airlines.
When Rita returned to Detroit to be with her ill mother, she established a summer camp program for children ages 7 to 13 in Core City. Rita is a single, divorced parent of two, as well as a foster parent of two. For 16 years she served on the Michigan Supreme Court Foster Care Review Board. Ms. Ross is dedicated to fighting for education and mental health for our youngest citizens. She released a children's CD entitled "Aunt Rita Sings for the Children". All of the proceeds of this CD were donated to the children of families with AIDS. Rita's family refers to her as the family historian, storyteller and "Mother Teresa".
Motor City Makeover is one of Rita's favorite City of Detroit sponsored events. She is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and work even if it means using a chainsaw.
Her services to the community are many including leading Russell Woods in the establishment of a Historical Designation: collaboration with the University of Detroit to create a gateway into Russell Woods Community; initiating contact with Arbor Drugs, which resulted in the building and opening of a pharmacy, that was much needed in the community. Rita led the fight (and won) to have the State of Michigan return the Dexter Elmhurst Center to the neighborhood, which was donated by Ed Davis, the first African American to own a New Car dealer franchise.
She continuously fights to protect the zoning rights, not just in her neighborhood but for the entire City of Detroit, after being appointed to Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). She has worked with the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) to save seniors homes from tax foreclosure, even finding and providing shelter in her own home when they were evicted.
Rita Ross has long been a foot soldier for the Citizens of Detroit. She is ready to take her experiences to Lansing as your next District 5 Representative.