Detroit and Dearborn will host the first national unveiling ceremonies Feb. 4 for a commemorative U.S. Postal Service stamp honoring civil rights icon Rosa Parks.
Events at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Henry Ford Museum 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.
Admission to both museums is free that day.
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.
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. They can also have envelopes, programs and books signed by speakers and other notable people.
"All of these things have value to collectors. It's kind of a neat thing to go to," said Neal.
It's not clear how many people will attend the event.
Other speakers at the Henry Ford that day will include 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.
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