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Post office debuts Rosa Parks stamp on 100th birthday

9:39 AM, Jan 23, 2013   |    comments
Photo from USPS via Detroit Free Press
Rosa Parks forever stamp.
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DETROIT (USA TODAY) -- The first national unveiling ceremonies for a commemorative U.S. Postal Service stamp honoring civil rights icon Rosa Parks, will be held in Detroit and Dearborn, Mich., on Feb. 4.

Events at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn are expected to draw large crowds, including stamp collectors from around the country, on what would have been Parks' 100th birthday.

The first Rosa Parks Forever stamps will be sold at the Wright museum, with a dedication ceremony starting at 7:30.a.m. The Henry Ford Museum, where the Rosa Parks bus is on permanent display, will host the First-Day-of-Issue stamp event at 10:45 a.m., as part of a daylong celebration dubbed the National Day of Courage.

Parks made history on Dec. 1, 1955, by refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus -- an act that spurred a movement to end legally sanctioned racial discrimination. She and her husband Raymond moved to Detroit in 1957.

Speakers at the Henry Ford event will include activist and former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and U.S. Rep. John Conyers, a Democrat from Detroit for whom Parks worked as a secretary and receptionist from 1965-88.

"Stamp collectors and other people travel to events like this because they want to be part of history," said Don Neal, editor of "Reflections," a newsletter published by the Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections, a group focused on collecting stamps depicting people and events relating to the experiences of black people worldwide.

As with other first-day stamp events, people attending the Rosa Parks debuts will get to purchase the first stamps issued, in this case, 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.

Other speakers scheduled for the event at the Henry Ford Museum are author and scholar Henry Louis Gates, Newsweek contributing editor Eleanor Clift and Rosa Parks biographers Douglas Brinkley and Jeanne Theoharis. A video message from former President Bill Clinton, who presented Parks with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996, also will be shown.

Parks died Oct. 24, 2005, in Detroit, at the age of 92.

Cassandra Spratling and Tom Walsh, Detroit Free Press

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