Talks Underway to Move Ashes of writer Dorothy Parker out of Baltimore

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tags: civil rights, literature, NAACP

Dorothy Parker just can't rest in peace.

The ashes of the wisecracking New York writer have been shelved in the obscurity of a lawyer’s office. Then came proposals to sprinkle her remains in the Hudson River or paint them into art. Finally, her ashes were interred beneath a plaque in a Baltimore business park, for posterity.

Well, almost.

Her caretakers are planning to exhume and move again what’s left of the famously irreverent writer. She suggested as her epitaph: Excuse my dust.

“Her legacy means a lot. She’s been at 4805 [Mount Hope Drive] for a number of years. It’s important to us that we do this right,” said Aba Blankson, a spokeswoman for the national office of the NAACP, headquartered for decades at that address in the business park. Parker’s ashes have been buried there 31 years.

Last month, the NAACP announced that it would relocate its headquarters from Baltimore to Washington, a move that’s been long discussed. City leaders expressed dismay, pledging to try to keep the storied civil rights organization in Baltimore.

Meanwhile, those steeped in the city’s literary lore are left to wonder: What’s to become of Dottie?

“It’s kind of heartbreaking that she’s being moved again,” said New York fiction writer Ellen Meister, who runs a popular Dorothy Parker fan page on Facebook. “She really suffered so much disrespect in terms of her final remains. It’s a tragic end to a very difficult life.”

Parker is best remembered for her sharp tongue and wry remarks as a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, the circle of New York writers, critics and actors whose boozy lunches and piercing repartee became an enduring scene from the Roaring Twenties.


By the time the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. marched on Montgomery, Ala., Parker was too old to take to the streets. When she died of a heart attack two years later — at age 73, widowed and childless — she left him her estate of $40,000. King was reportedly puzzled.

“She was very careful to leave instructions that she wanted her estate to benefit the civil rights movement,” Meister said.

King was assassinated within a year, and Parker’s estate went to the NAACP. She neglected, however, to leave instructions for her own remains.

Read entire article at Washington Post

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