Post office unveils NAACP stamps

Aiken Branch NAACP president Brendolyn Jenkins, right, and Aiken Post Office postmaster Kathy Jenks formally unveil large replicas of 12 civil rights leaders commemorated in a six-stamp collection.

Every year the U.S. Postal Service issues a stamp honoring a civil rights leader.

The NAACP is celebrating its 100th anniversary this month and, on this occasion, the Postal Service is recognizing 12 “Civil Rights Pioneers” with commemorative stamps in six designs.

The Aiken Branch NAACP and other community residents joined Aiken postmaster Kathy Jenks and staffers at the Laurens Street facility Saturday for a formal unveiling of the new stamps.

A small number of post offices throughout the country did similar unveilings, “and this is the only one in the Southeast,” said Aiken Branch president Brendolyn Jenkins. “We’re really proud that the Postal Service recognizes the contributions of the NAACP. Kathy Jenks was receptive from the beginning and we really appreciate that.”

The stamps honor familiar leaders such as Medgar Evers and Fannie Lou Hamer. Others include Mary Church Terrell, Mary White Ovington, J.R. Clifford, Joel Elias Spingarn, Oswald Garrison Villard, Daisy Gatson Bates, Charles Hamilton Houston, Walter White, Ella Baker and Ruby Harley.

Ovington and Villard helped found the NAACP in 1909. Bates mentored nine black students who enrolled at all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., in 1957. Baker encouraged women and young people to take leadership roles in the civil rights movement. Clifford, the first black attorney licensed in West Virginia, took on the issue of racial discrimination in education in two key cases before his state’s Supreme Court.

David Walker, a former Aiken Branch president, described “a great day, a new day” in the history of the Postal Service in honoring so many important civil rights leaders in one stamp issue.

“Some of these names may not be familiar to many people,” Walker said. “The Postal Service is honoring their legacy and the struggles of the civil rights movement. I just hope people will come out and purchase these stamps, even if it’s just for commemoration to keep for posterity.”

As he looked at the stamps and the faces on them, Walker recalled his own childhood in a segregated Alabama. Last month, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the first African-American president.

“These are the people who helped make that possible,” Walker said. “It’s their shoulders we’re standing on. We wouldn’t be enjoying the things we have without them.”

Jenks said she immediately agreed to the unveiling when Jenkins requested a formal ceremony.

“It’s really meaningful for me,” said Jenks. “It’s not only a historical moment, but a historical year for the United States.”

The new collection is available only as a six-stamp sheet for $2.52.


One Response to “Post office unveils NAACP stamps”

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