USPS issues four female athletes Forever Stamps

Forever Stamps 2022.
Forever Stamps 2022.

WOMEN HISTORY MONTH:

As Black History Month morphs into celebrations of the accomplishments of female history makers, the United States Postal Service released four stamps featuring images illustrating Title IX female athletes in honor of Women’s History Month.

Issued March 3, 2022, the four Forever stamps commemorate the 50th anniversary of the passage of a Civil Rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex from any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. Title IX was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Richard Nixon on June 23, 1972. Since its passage 50 years ago, Title IX has been applied at elementary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Its enactment prohibits sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking on school campuses or within school programs or activities. For half of a century, the law has impacted generations of young people in the USA allowing a broader range of competitive sports offerings, more robust physical education regimens and equal spaces to perform. In addition, the law provides protections and is still evolving.

The four distinct Women History Month stamps feature silhouettes of female athletes — a runner, a swimmer, a gymnast and a soccer player.

Their faceless images muted on a dark blue background, represent diversity evident from four hair adornments. One displays cornrows of braided hair, another sports a single plait. The other pair depicts less obvious coifs covered by a swim cap and the other in a traditional hairstyle. Each design is decorated by a yellow laurel branch akin to the Olympic symbol for victory.

These Forever stamps like earlier issues are priced permanently at the purchase fee regardless of price hikes. They add to the Heritage Series which feature achieving African Americans in science, art, fashion, politics, music, journalism, aviation and other genres.

Harriet Tubman Heritage stamp.

Previous issues honoring African American women include dedications to Bessie Smith, Florence Ballard, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington. Sarah Vaughn, Cong. Shirley Chisholm, Rosa Parks, Gwen Ifill, Barbara Jordan, Hattie McDaniels, Lena Horne, Wilma Randolph, Billie Holiday, Harriett Tubman, Dorothy Height, Sojourner Truth, Zora Neale Hurston, Bessie Coleman, Marian Anderson, Ida B. Wells, Madam CJ Walker, Mary Mc Leod Bethune, Maya Angelou and others.

Harriet Tubman was the first African American woman to be honored on a U.S. postage stamp. Priced at 13 cents on Feb. 1, 1978, it launched the Black Heritage series.

Born a slave, she escaped to freedom in 1849. Emancipation did not prevent her from returning south to assist her family to freedom. She risked capture by embarking on missions she was dubbed the “conductor” of the Underground Railroad. Known as “the Moses of her people,” she helped more than 300 captive slaves escape to freedom to Canada through the network of routes and safe houses. During the Civil War she assisted the Union Army as a spy, scout and nurse. Her good works continued throughout her life. In her eighties Tubman contributed money to found a home to care for aging African Americans.

Caucasian females have had many more Women History Month designated Forever stamps. They include those of Susan B. Anthony, Greta Garbo, Sally Ride, Katherine Hepburn and others.

According to the USPS Sarah Black is the first known woman appointed to carry mail in the United States. She was appointed on April 3, 1845, and her Charleston, MD, mail route garnered her a whopping $48 per year salary.

Mary Fields, known as “Stagecoach Mary,” is the first known African-American woman to carry mail. Born a slave, Fields was freed after the Civil War and eventually settled in Cascade, MT, where she began driving a mail wagon at age 63.

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