“Pink” Parker’s Tribute to an Assassin
Joseph Pinkney “Pink” Parker was a police officer, teacher, Baptist church member and Confederate veteran who lived in Alabama. He was probably best known, however, as a hater of Abraham Lincoln.
His animosity to the slain president was manifested each year when Parker would dress in his finest clothes to celebrate the anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination. Troy is a Southern city in South Alabama and most local residents either humored or even quietly supported Pink’s macabre annual assassination celebration.
But then, Parker took things to a whole new level. In 1906 he commissioned a monument to John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln. The three-foot tall stone shaft bore the inscription, “Erected by Pink Parker in honor of John Wilks Booth for killing Old Abe Lincoln.” As can be imagined, the monument drew criticism from the national newspapers.
Parker wanted to put it right front of the Pike County Courthouse in Troy but local officials balked at the idea and said no. He responded by exercising his First Amendment rights and placing it in his front yard on Madison Street. It stood there for many years, much to the chagrin of the national media.
Pink Parker’s monument to Booth was proclaimed “the only monument to the memory of an assassin that stands on American soil” by the Northern press. Its existence became major news in 1920, by which time it had already been standing for 14 years.
National newspapers got many of the details wrong. They widely reported that funds for the monument had been raised in an outpouring of community support and that it stood on the town square. Neither claim was true.
The controversy peaked in 1921 as letters poured into Troy from across the United States, most containing demands that the monument be removed. The town council intervened and according to media reports ordered Parker to move it. He took it down and put it in his barn.
Any thoughts of putting it back up ended when old Pink Parker passed away in the midst of the controversy. His sons took the monument to a stone carver who removed the inscription honoring Booth. It was then given a new inscription and used as a headstone for the man some reporters called “the bitterest rebel.”
The former monument to John Wilkes Booth can be seen today on Parker’s grave in Troy’s Oakwood Cemetery. The historic cemetery is located on North Knox Street in Troy, Alabama. To find it Pink Parker’s grave, travel north on Knox and enter the cemetery at the second gate. Drive as far as possible toward the far side of the cemetery and then walk down the slope to the graves near the fence. Parker is buried there with other members of his family.
There is no indication on the stone that it was ever a monument to John Wilkes Booth.
Oakwood Cemetery is open to the public during daylight hours. Please use the map below to help you find it: