Postal Service Commemorates Historic March on Washington with Stamp

Stacy M. Brown | 8/23/2013, 9 p.m. | Updated on 8/26/2013, 1:51 p.m.
The United States Postal Service's commemorative stamp for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington was unveiled at the Newseum in in Northwest D.C. on Thursday, Aug. 22. Photo by Shevry Lassiter

Actress Gabrielle Union said she’s blessed to have participated in the historic unveiling of a new U.S. Postal Service stamp that pays homage to the civil rights movement, while events celebrating the anniversary of the famous 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom continue throughout the District.

“It’s an exciting time,” said Union, who’s starred in such big screen films as “Cadillac Records” in 2008, “Daddy’s Little Girls” in 2007, and “The Honeymooners” in 2005.

“It’s cool that people are banding together to commemorate this life-altering event,” said Union, 40, who helped to unveil the new stamp with Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), on Friday, Aug. 23, at the Newseum in Northwest.

The Postal Service commissioned the limited edition “Forever” stamp, which contains the word, “Equality,” in time for the 50th anniversary of the celebrated 1963 march, which attracted hundreds of thousands of people to the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous, “I Have a Dream,” speech.

Stamps marked, “Forever,” can be used regardless of any increases in postage that may occur.

“Equality has a stamp of its own,” said Lewis, the only surviving speaker to address the crowd during the original 1963 march. “It is so appropriate and so fitting for the United States Postal Service to issue this ‘Forever’ stamp on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington,” said Lewis, 73.

“The march was one of the turning points in the on-going struggle for civil rights and social justice in America,” he said. “In the years to come, when individuals use this stamp, they will be reminded of the distance we have come and the progress we have made as a nation. And they will be reminded of the civic duty of every American to stand up for what is right in our democracy.”

During the past year, residents who live in Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles, Baltimore and countless other American cities posted photos and ideas for the commemorative stamp’s design on the Postal Service’s Facebook page.

“It’s an honor to dedicate a stamp that commemorates what Dr. Martin Luther King described as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation,” said Deputy U.S. Postmaster, Ronald Stroman. “The U.S. Postal Service takes great pride in being able to recognize historic events by issuing these limited-edition stamps commemorating America’s best,” said Stroman, a District resident.

The commemorative March on Washington stamp marks the last of three that will be issued this year as part of the civil rights series that recognizes courage, freedom and equality in America.

The first “Forever” stamp marked the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation in January, while the second “Forever” stamp, released in February, paid tribute to the late Rosa Parks on the 100th anniversary of her birth.

An inspiring word appears in large type in the selvage of each civil rights stamp pane, including, “Freedom” on the Emancipation Proclamation stamp sheet, and, “Courage,” on Parks’ stamp sheet.

Under the artistic direction of Alexandria, Va., resident, Antonio Alcalá, and artist Gregory Manchess of New York, the recently released stamp depicts the civil rights marchers, with the Washington Monument as its backdrop.

Placards calling for equal rights and jobs for all — the two principal themes of the march — are also prominently displayed on the stamp.

Fifty years ago, on Aug. 28, 1963, nearly a quarter of a million people converged upon the Nation’s Capital, to demand jobs, competitive wages and equal rights under the law.

King delivered his riveting, “I Have a Dream,” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, the defining moment in the American civil rights movement. The theologian, from Atlanta, galvanized the nation with his vision of a day when, “this nation would rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” he told the beleaguered but hopeful crowd.

The march and King’s speech brought people from different backgrounds and races together for a common cause.

“It’s one of those things where you’re literally joining together with people from all over the country,” Union said. “Even though 50 years have passed, we still understand there’s a lot of work to be done.”