WTF Fun Fact 13129 – Dorothy Parker and MLK Jr.

Writer, poet, and satirist Dorothy Parker is known for her wit. But she was also a civil rights advocate who, in her will, arranged for her entire estate to go to Martin Luther King Jr. – and then to the NAACP after his death. The NAACP still owns the rights to Parker’s oeuvre today.

Parker’s death and legacy

Dorothy Parker became famous for her writing as well as her founding membership in a group of elite writers known as the Algonquin Round Table in New York City. In the 1930s, she also worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood, receiving two Academy Award nominations.

In 1967, Parker died of a heart attack. By then, she had already alienated many of her peers. So when her ashes were never claimed, they were sent to her lawyer. However, he had already retired, so a colleague took charge of the ashes, and they sat in an office cabinet for 17 years.

Eventually, the NAACP took the ashes, where they were on display at the national headquarters in Baltimore for 32 years until she had a formal, private burial in 2020.

It made sense for the NAACP to take Dorothy Parker’s remains since she had been such a notable civil rights advocate. In fact, the organization still benefits from owning the rights to her work.

According to the NAACP website (cited below):

“Preserving the legacy of Dorothy Parker has been an essential part of the NAACP’s history…Dorothy Parker will always be part of the NAACP story as the NAACP was part of hers. Her life and legacy will continue to be remembered throughout NAACP history.”

While many of us own a copy of The Portable Dorothy Parker, much of her life after her heyday in NYC remains unknown. But it’s more interesting than we could have imagined.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Dorothy Parker, An Unwavering Legacy ” — NAACP