(Family Features) The influence of family can be a powerful thing. When asked who inspired her as a child, Rosa Parks, an extraordinary American activist, answered, "My family, I would say, my mother, and my maternal grandparents. I grew up with them."
On December 1, 1955, Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat on a municipal bus to a white man. Her arrest sparked a boycott of the Montgomery bus system that lasted longer than a year, posing an ultimately successful challenge to racial segregation and inspiring others to similar action.
Rosa Parks' lifelong dedication to civil rights has influenced generations of Americans. The U.S. Postal Service wants its 2013 Civil Rights set of stamps to continue to educate and inspire. It released the Rosa Parks Forever® Stamp this year, along with a stamp commemorating the day 50 years ago when nearly a quarter of a million people came together in Washington, DC, to participate in the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. A third stamp in the Civil Rights set celebrates the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, by President Abraham Lincoln.
Parents looking for ways to teach their children about historic American events like these can turn to stamps for fun, interactive ways to discuss national milestones and iconic figures with their children outside the classroom. Since 1893, the U.S. Postal Service has issued limited-edition stamps that honor prominent people, places, icons and events of contemporary American life. These miniature works of art serve as excellent resources for teaching about our country and our culture in a new and exciting way that reaches beyond a textbook.
In addition, the U.S. Postal Service has developed a worksheet to help guide exploration into civil rights and equality. The worksheet features a "how to" guide for making a family tree, as well as a coloring sheet and exercise that empowers children to think about what equality means to them. Download the worksheet and find other resources at http://blog-stampofapproval.com.
Educators will want to explore the U.S. Postal Service's Community Connection website, found at www.uspsconnection.com, which brings the history and heritage of the Postal Service's 238 years into elementary grade classrooms, using stamps as a catalyst to spark conversations and learning opportunities for students.
Twelve civil rights pioneers, including Mary Church Terrell and Mary White Ovington, have also been honored in the past with their own postage stamp. Every year the Postal Service commemorates notable leaders and cultural milestones through other stamp collections, such as the Black Heritage series and the American Treasures series.
Photos courtesy of Daniel Afzal/United States Postal Service