Image: Grave marker for Rosa Parks
Rebecca Cook  /  Reuters file
The grave marker for civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks is seen in the Detroit cemetery where Parks was be buried on Oct. 31, 2005. Parks' refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white man helped break racial segregation in America.
updated 3/4/2006 9:32:28 PM ET 2006-03-05T02:32:28

The price to get a spot in Detroit’s Woodlawn cemetery has jumped thousands of dollars since civil rights icon Rosa Parks was entombed there last fall, angering some relatives who say it cheapens her legacy.

The spaces in the Rosa L. Parks Freedom Chapel were priced at $17,000 before the cemetery gave spots, for free, to Parks, her husband and her mother. Now, the spaces cost $24,275, and possibly as much as $65,000 for the slots nearest to Parks’ crypt.

Some of her relatives worry the prices might cheapen the legacy of the woman who began the civil rights movement by refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man in 1955. Parks died in October.

Parks’ closest living relative, nephew William McCauley, said her burial was a “private matter, not a spectacle.”

“I know some people might want to be buried near her, but we’re just private people and so was she,” he told the Detroit Free Press for a story published Saturday. “When will people stop taking advantage of her legacy?”

Woodlawn officials denied that they are exploiting Parks.

“No, no, I don’t think we’re profiteering at all,” said Wade Reynolds, chief operating officer of Mikocem, the management company for Woodlawn and more than 25 other Michigan cemeteries.

The new prices will cover the cost of maintenance and numerous improvements to the chapel, plus a reasonable profit.

No crypts have been sold yet at the new prices.

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