The U.S. Postage stamp featuring the image of Rosa Parks will be unveiled on what would have been her 100th birthday, Feb. 4.
Two national unveiling ceremonies will be held in Detroit and Dearbon, Mich.
Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, and the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn will host the events, expected to be attended by large crowds, and stamp collectors from all over the country. “Stamp collectors and other people travel to events like this because they want to be part of history,” noted, Don Neal, editor of a newsletter dedicated to stamps related to Black history.
Dubbed the National Day of Courage, the dedication ceremony will begin at 7:30 a.m. at the Henry Ford Museum, followed by the First-Day-of-Issue stamp event at 10:45 a.m., where attendees will be granted the first opportunity to purchase the stamps.
Harvard professor and scholar, Henry Louis Gates, Parks biographers Douglas Brinkley and Jeanne Theoharis, plus Newsweek editor, Eleanor Clift, are all expected to share words at the ceremonies.
Parks is known as one of the figures credited with leading one of the most pivotal moments in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1955, she refused to give her seat to a white man, and move to the “colored section,” while riding a bus in Montgomery, Ala. “Why don’t you stand up?” she responded when asked to move. “I don’t think I should have to stand up.”
Police were called, and she was arrested.
Although others before her had taken similar steps in 1946, and in 1955, NAACP organizers believed that she was best suited to challenge the system in a legal case.
The national example of defiance against racial discrimination cost Parks her job at a department store, and resulted in her husband resigning from his position, after being blocked from talking about his wife’s legal case.
The couple moved to Hampton, Va. in 1957, where Parks found work as a hostess. A year later, she moved to Detroit and worked as a seamstress for the eight years, before taking a job as a secretary for Black U.S. Representative John Conyers, a position she held until 1988.
After going through several bouts of illness in her family including that of her brother and cousin, both of whom died from cancer, Parks rededicated herself to civil rights in the 1980s, co-founding the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Development in 1987.
Parks stayed in Detroit until her death on October 24, 2005. She was 92.
Late last year, the Washington Cathedral dedicated a statue in honor of her legacy.