Four Flags Now Available in ATM Booklet of 18 Stamps

Beginning today, the popular Four Flags stamps are available as ATM booklets of 18 stamps. Each of the stamps in this quartet—which was first issued February 22, 2012—features a bright U.S. flag against a white background, accompanied by a single word: Freedom, Liberty, Equality, and Justice.

The black typeface recalls the look of Colonial-era printing and emphasizes the meaning these four terms held for the colonists who fought the American Revolution. Patriots and Founding Fathers often invoked these words as they struggled to envision a new, democratic nation and make their ideals for the new country a reality.

  • Liberty: “Give me liberty or give me death.” – Patrick Henry, 1775
  • Equality: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” – Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 1776
  • Freedom: “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” – John Adams, 1777
  • Justice: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” – Constitution of the United States, 1787

Each envelope in this set features a different Four Flags (Forever®) stamp and an official First Day of Issue postmark (click for more information).

The current U.S. flag, which is depicted on these stamps, consists of 13 stripes and 50 stars. Congress passed legislation in 1818 stating that the number of stars on the flag should match the number of states in the Union. It also specified that new stars would be added to the flag on the first July 4th after a state’s admission. The current flag’s 50th star was added on July 4, 1960, after Hawai‘i became a state on August 21, 1959. The flag’s 13 stripes represent the 13 original states.

The Four Flags stamps are being issued as Forever® stamps. (Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.)

If you wish to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail, purchase the new stamps and affix them to envelopes of your choice. Address the envelopes to yourself or others, and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:

Four Flags
1202 E First Street
Humble, TX  77338-9998

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark.

More Than 50 Years of Integrated Public Schools

Racial segregation was the unchallenged norm in American public schools until May 17, 1954, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education declaring that separate educational facilities for black and white children are inherently unequal. The case was initiated in Topeka, Kansas, where Oliver Brown and several other parents filed a suit against the local board of education on behalf of their children, many of whom were forced to travel long distances to school. Their case was consolidated with other, similar ones and argued before the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., by Thurgood Marshall, who later became the Court’s first African-American justice.

This stamp appeared on the To Form a More Perfect Union pane, which was issued in 2005 and recognized the courage and achievement of the men and women who, during the years of the civil rights movement, struggled to bring the vision of our nation’s founders closer to reality. The stamp art is a detail from “The Lamp” by Romare Bearden. In 1984, the NAACP selected the lithograph to be on a poster celebrating the 30th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision.

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.

Sí se puede: Celebrating Cesar Chavez Day (and a contest!)

Cesar E. Chavez (1927–1993) is best remembered as the founder of the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO (UFW). A strong believer in the principles of nonviolence, he effectively employed peaceful tactics such as fasts, boycotts, strikes, and pilgrimages. Last Friday, President Obama proclaimed today Cesar Chavez Day:

One of our Nation’s great civil rights leaders, Cesar Estrada Chavez came of age as a migrant farm worker, witnessing the injustice that pervaded fields and vineyards across California. Facing discrimination, poverty, and dangerous working conditions, laborers toiled for little pay and without access to even the most basic necessities. Yet amidst hardship and abuse, Cesar Chavez saw the promise of change—the unlimited potential of a community organized around a common purpose. Today we celebrate his courage, reflect on his lifetime of advocacy, and recognize the power in each of us to lift up lives and pursue social justice.

For more than three decades Chavez led the first successful farm workers union in American history, achieving gains such as fair wages, medical coverage, pension benefits, and human living conditions. However, his work transcended any one movement or cause. Chavez inspired millions of Americans to seek social justice and civil rights for the poor and disenfranchised. He advocated for nonviolent social reform. He was an environmentalist and labor leader. Ultimately, he forged an extraordinary and diverse national coalition of students, middle-class consumers, trade unionists, religious groups, women, and minorities.

Chavez’s motto in life—si se puede (“it can be done”)—embodies the uncommon and invaluable legacy he left behind. The U.S. Postal Service honored Chavez with a stamp in 2003. “He was the champion for hardworking but underpaid workers,” said art director Carl T. Herrman, who designed the stamp. “His life shows that you don’t have to be a wealthy person to make a difference in America.”

To celebrate Cesar Chavez Day, we’ve devised a little contest for you all. Here’s the question: Who famously called Chavez “one of the heroic figures of our time”? Send your answers to uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com. Of those who answer correctly, five will be chosen at random to receive an official USPS program from the Cesar E. Chavez First Day of Issue Ceremony held in Los Angeles on April, 23, 2003. You have until midnight tomorrow (Sunday, April 1) to enter. Good luck, and remember, spelling counts!