The US Postal Service will release the Rosa Parks commemorative forever stamp today and the Civil Rights icon’s image will be honored at a celebration at the King Center. The stamp is being released on what would have been Parks’ 100th birthday.
The unveiling of the commemorative stamp and honoring of Parks’ birthday at the King Center will feature the Women of the Civil Rights Movement including Dr. Bernice King, King Center CEO, SCLC First Lady Cathelean Steele, SCLC Women President Evelyn Lowery, Janice Mathis, Rainbow/PUSH Executive Director, Helen Butler, People’s Agenda Executive Director, former State Rep. Roberta Abdul-Salaam and the esteemed Mrs. Christine King Farris, among other civil rights icons and luminaries.
The US Postal Service 2013 stamp honors the life of Parks, an extraordinary American activist who became an iconic figure in the civil rights movement. In 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Rosa Parks courageously refused to give up her seat on a municipal bus to a white man, defying the discriminatory laws of the time.
The response to Parks’ arrest was a boycott of the Montgomery bus system that lasted for more than a year and became an international cause célèbre. In 1956, in a related case, the United States Supreme Court affirmed that the segregation of the Montgomery buses was unconstitutional.
Parks stamp will be part of The Black Heritage Stamp Series, a collection of stamps commemorating the accomplishments and contributions of African Americans throughout American history.
The Black Heritage series began in 1978 with a stamp that honored American abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Each fall, the honoree for the following year is announced.
“Mrs. Parks was not just known for sitting down on that Montgomery bus. She was also known for working with children,” says Brenda Davenport, Founder and Coordinator of the Rosa Parks Centennial Tribute Committee. “She had the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute in Atlanta, where over 500 young people have been touched by Mrs. Parks through participating in the program. Once she sat down, the rest of the world stood up. That one act started the modern day Civil Rights Movement — bringing us Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and so many, many more.”
Davenport also talked about Jane Gunter, a pregnant young white woman who on the bus with Parks that fateful day who now laments that, because of those perilous and racially tense times, she could not help Parks. But she says the event changed her life and she now leads a major homeless and feeding program in the City of East Point. She will be on hand for to celebrate Parks’ stamp.
“All the great women of the civil rights movement are coming to proudly honor one of their own – the first ‘shero’, of the struggle for racial justice,” says Margaret Muhammad, the Rosa Parks Committee Co-Chair. “Rosa Parks is the Mother of the Movement!”
In addition to the celebration at the King Center, USA Today reports that the stamp will be unveiled during a birthday breakfast celebration and live radio broadcast Monday at the Charles Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. A second unveiling will take place later that afternoon at The Henry Ford museum complex in Dearborn, Mich., where activities are going on all day in honor of Parks.
The celebration at the King Center begins at 1 p.m. The King Center is located at 449 Auburn Ave. in Atlanta.
(Photo: Courtesy of US Postal Service)