Civil Rights activist gets Forever Stamp

Rosa Parks.

Philatelists will flock to two cities in Michigan next month to witness the first day unveiling of a stamp bearing the image of Rosa Parks, the undisputed first lady of the Civil Rights Movement on the anniversary of her 100th birthday.

Some will visit Detroit early in the morning for the first ceremony on Feb. 4, when the United States Postal Service will introduce a Forever stamp decorated by a photo of the legendary activist who sat down on a bus to change tradition in the southern states of the United States of America history.

According to a USPS definition “A forever stamp is a postage stamp in the United States that is valid for First-Class postage no matter when it is used. Once purchased, a forever stamp is a perpetual stamp that never expires or declines in value. Its value is the First-Class Mail stamp postage rate for a one ounce letter at the time of use.”

Stamp collectors, history buffs and enthusiasts are expected to attend the two ceremonies.

“Stamp collectors and other people travel to events like this because they want to be part of h

istory,” Don Neal, editor of a newsletter published by the Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections said.

Speaking for the group which focus on collecting stamps depicting people and events relating to the experiences of Blacks throughout the world added that members and history buffs attending the first-day stamp events will have an opportunity to purchase the first stamps issued.

The priceless collector’s item will be postmarked Feb. 4 and canceled with Detroit or Dearborn postmarks.

“All of these things have value to collectors. It’s kind of a neat thing to go to,” Neal said.

Parks lived and worked in Michigan for more than 23 years. She worked as secretary for Rep. John Conyers from 1965 to 1988.

She made international news on Dec. 1, 1955 for refusing to surrender her seat on a bus to a white man. Tradition in Montgomery, Alabama during the Jim Crow era dictated that Blacks seated in the designated section in the back of the bus must give up their seat to any white passenger needing a seat if the front became full.

Parks was arrested for civil disobedience.

However, her bold stance immediately sparked a protest against the bus company and one that united Blacks and became inscribed in American history as the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955.

That demonstration also hailed her courageous gesture by naming her “The First Lady of Civil Rights.”

She is scheduled to receive a posthumous honor on that same day.

The first ceremony will be held at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. The next commemorative ceremony will be held later that day at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Speakers at the Henry Ford event will include activist and former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and Detroit, Democrat Rep. Conyers.

Other speakers scheduled for the event at the Henry Ford Museum are Henry Louis Gates, author and scholar, Eleanor Clift, Newsweek contributing editor and Parks’ biographers Douglas Brinkley and Jeanne Theoharis. A video message from former President Bill Clinton will be shown.

In 1996, the commander in chief presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Parks died Oct. 24, 2005, in Detroit, at the age of 92.

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