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Stamps honor Civil Rights movement

The Civil Rights Movement was a time of courage and struggle for many people in this state and across the nation. As part of their 2005 Commemorative Stamp Program, the United States Postal Service is issuing stamps that honor this struggle.

“They are going to issue 10 stamps throughout this country,” said James A. Howard.

Howard, Selma’s Postmaster, said that the stamps, collectively entitled “To Form a More Perfect Union”, recognize the events and people that helped shape the Civil Rights Movement.

Among the events depicted are the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott that occurred when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger, and the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery – which ultimately helped bring about the Voting Rights Act.

“I think it’s appropriate that we honor these events,” Howard said. “These stamps bring recognition to key events that helped shape the movement and still have a great impact on the issues of today.”

Also portrayed in the collection is the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – which prohibited discrimination in public accommodations such as hotels, restaurants and theaters; Brown v. Board of Education – the case that declared that separate educational facilities for black and white children were unequal; the Freedom Riders – a group of men and women who took bus rides through the South and used the “wrong” facilities at stops to test a ruling that outlawed segregation of bus stations and terminals; the Little Rock Nine – nine students who became the first African Americans to attend Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957; the Lunch Counter Sit-ins – four African-American college students placed an order at a “whites only” lunch counter in Greensboro, NC, in 1960, which caused similar action in other cities; Executive Order 9981 – President Harry S. Truman mandated full integration in all branches of the U.S. military on July 26, 1948; the March on Washington – more than 250,000 people marched in Washington, DC, for racial justice in 1963, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law, which prevented state and local governments from denying citizens the right to vote because of their race.

The stamps, which were designed by Ethel Kessler using details from contemporary artwork, will not be issued to the public until August 30.

“On that day, we are going to have two (unveiling ceremonies in Alabama) – one in Montgomery and one in Selma,” Howard said. The Selma ceremony will be held at the Performing Arts Center and in Montgomery, at Troy University Montgomery.”