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The cost of spending eternity with Rosa Parks soars by a third

Parks, the Alabama seamstress venerated for her refusal in 1955 to surrender her seat on a bus to a white person, died last November and is buried at Detroit's Woodlawn Cemetery with other members of the city's elite, including the Ford and Dodge motorcar dynasties, and the family of Motown superstar Diana Ross.

The arrival of Parks, however, has led to a surge by a third in the prices of crypts close-by. Before last November, those nearest to where she is now buried cost $45,000 (£26,000). Today they cost $60,000. Those further away, but still in the Rosa L Parks Freedom Chapel, have seen their prices rise from $17,000 to more than $24,000.

The cemetery hotly denies that the price rises are an attempt to cash in on the celebrity of Parks, insisting that they merely reflect the need to redecorate and improve security at the chapel, and to cover the cost of three crypts donated to the Parks family.

But members of her family are not convinced. "We are totally blown away," her nephew, William Patrick McCauley, told The New York Times. "It's upsetting to us that she's being taken advantage of in her death, and we're not being consulted. No one's contacted us about anything."

The basic price of a crypt at Woodlawn is $3,600. A spot in the mausoleum where the soul singer Aretha Franklin's family is buried costs $9,000.

Mikocem, the company that runs Woodlawn, said it had no plans for an upgrade when Ms Franklin herself is laid to rest there. By contrast, it had spent $4m on renovating the Parks chapel, and on other expenses connected with her death.