Freedom, Courage, & Equality: Celebrating Civil Rights Milestones in 2013

For history lovers and stamp fans alike, the year 2013 should be a very special one. By a fortunate coincidence, there are three major civil rights anniversaries this year, each deserving of a stamp:

  • the 150th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s issuance on January 1, 1863, of the Emancipation Proclamation;
  • the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rosa Parks on February 4, 1913;
  • the 50th anniversary of the famous March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.

The words “Freedom,” “Courage,” and “Equality” appear in large type in the selvage of each respective pane of stamps honoring these civil rights milestones. Throughout 2013, we’re asking you, our readers, to engage in an online discussion of the meaning of these words—freedom, courage, equality—in your own life and in the life of the nation. What does each word mean to you?

Today We Take a Stand Against Racism

Today is the fifth annual Stand Against Racism—a movement that aims to shed light on the pervasive forms of racism that still exist in our country and eliminate them by celebrating our diversity.

In August 1963, during the height of the civil rights movement, more than 250,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C., to demand racial justice. Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to the crowd on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, driving home the importance of racial equality with optimistic hope for the future.

We’ve come a long way since then, but there is still more work to be done. By raising awareness of the injustices enacted upon our fellow citizens every day, Stand Against Racism dreams of the same world Dr. King did in 1963.

Issued as part of the To Form a More Perfect Union pane in 2005, the stamp art is a detail from “March on Washington” by Alma Thomas.

Singer Marian Anderson Lets Her Rich Contralto Soar at Lincoln Memorial

On this day in 1939 (Easter Sunday), Marian Anderson gave a historic and highly symbolic performance outdoors before 75,000 people at the Lincoln Memorial. She presented a varied repertoire, including “America,” Schubert’s “Ave Maria,” and a group of spirituals. Her performance was broadcast on radio nationwide.

One of the greatest classically trained singers of the 20th century and an important figure in the struggle of black Americans for racial equality, Anderson opened doors for other black artists. In January 1955, she became the first black singer to appear on the stage of New York’s Metropolitan Opera when she sang the role of the sorceress Ulrica in Verdi’s Un Ballo in maschera.

Cultural Diary Page (click to order)

Nearing the twilight of her musical career, Anderson became more active in politics. She performed at an inaugural ceremony for President Eisenhower’s second term and for the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. The U.S. Department of State made her a goodwill ambassador to Asia, and in 1958, she was appointed to the thirteenth session of the United Nations.

At the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, Anderson again sang at the Lincoln Memorial. The following December, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In 2005, the U.S. Postal Service honored Anderson with the 28th stamp in the Black Heritage series.