Parker's attraction to political activism can be traced to two events. In August 1927, Parker and other Algonquinites marched in Boston to protest the execution of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, two Italian Americans who were arrested, convicted, and executed for robbery and murder. Protests during the seven years of litigation focused on their ignorance of American ways and their avowed anarchism, which may have prevented a fair trial. Sacco was accused of the killing, and Vanzetti was tried as his accomplice.
On the day of the execution, Parker and Edna St. Vincent Millay went to Boston to plead a stay of execution from the governor. Other sympathetic groups marched with placards outside the statehouse where the governor's council was meeting. It is thought that most of the marchers were members of the Communist Party, including Michael Gold, editor of New Masses, and Sender Garlin of the Daily Worker. It is believed that this was Parker's first direct contact with members of the Communist Party.
The police arrived and arrested many of the marchers, including Parker and John Dos Passos. She was fined five dollars for loitering and later told reporters that she had been "treated roughly" by police. After a reprieve, Sacco and Vanzetti were executed on August 3 and Parker declared herself a socialist.
Her second exposure to members of the American Communist Party occurred in 1932 during a transatlantic crossing aboard the luxurious Europa. When Parker, who was traveling first class, learned that the mother of Tom Mooney, the West Coast labor leader convicted of a bombing and serving a twenty-five-year sentence in San Quentin, was aboard in third class, she sought out the eighty-four-year-old woman. Mary Mooney was traveling to Russia with a delegation of American Communists. Parker attended Communist meetings in the ship's third-class dining hall and professed the speeches overly long and muddled.
In 1933, Parker, Lillian Hellman, and Dashiell Hammett became chief organizers of the first trade union of Hollywood screenwriters, the Screen Writers Guild (SWG). By April 1936, after several setbacks, the guild called upon the House Patents Committee for legislation to strengthen the rights of authors to decide how their material was to be used. The studios insisted that writers were artists and therefore ineligible to unionize. Then, in June 1938, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that screenwriters qualified as workers under the Wagner Act. An election was held to choose union representation, and the Screen Writers Guild won over the more conservative Screen Playwrights.
For more information on the creation of and battle for control of the Screen Writers Guild, see the book "Hollywood Traitors: Blacklisted Screenwriters, Agents of Stalin, Allies of Hitler", Allan H. Ryskind, Regnery History, 2015. The author is the son of the late, well known Hollywood screenwriter and playwright, Morrie Ryskind, who was one of the top anti-communist officials in the SWG, and called upon his father's personal documents to writer a devastating deconstruction of Communism in Hollywood in the 1930's and 40's.
In 1934, Parker, had declared herself a Communist.
She went on to join more than thirty organizations, contributed money to groups later described as Communist fronts, and permitted leftist committees to use her name on their letterheads and in fund-raising appeals.
Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace
Dorothy Parker was a sponsor of the Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace which ran from March 25 - 27, 1949 in New York City. It was arranged by a Communist Party USA front organization known as the National Council of the Arts, Sciences, and Professions. The conference was a follow-up to a similar gathering, the strongly anti-America, pro-Soviet World Congress of Intellectuals which was held in Poland, August 25 - 28, 1948.
- Dorothy Parker and the politics of McCarthyism, Theatre History Studies 01-JAN-06
- Review of the Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace by the Committee on Un-American Activities, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C., April 19, 1949