An advocate outside of her race
Regarding the June 16 front-page article “Broad questions about race after resignation”:
My mother, the late Betty Parry, was a poet and a promoter of African American intelligentsia. She was a white, blond, wealthy Hungarian Jew from Forest Hills who, beginning in the late 1940s when she was a social worker in New York, began to identify with black Americans, most notably through the words of Langston Hughes and Paul Robeson.
Locally, my mother was on the advisory board for the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, which brought her great joy, especially when talented African American students embraced the literary arts. In the early 1980s, she conceptualized, organized and led the groundbreaking program “In the Shadow of the Capitol: An Experiment in Collective Memory” at the Folger Shakespeare Library to celebrate the African American intellectual community in the District.
There was almost nowhere she was afraid to visit to enjoy or promote the arts. The rest of her family worried that she was reckless in trusting that she was never endangered on her forays into worlds far removed from Chevy Chase.
She did not try to appear to be African American, but she made a contribution to African American culture. As she explained in one of her poems, “whatever we want we can be.”
John Parry, Silver Spring