There was a grand celebration for the 100th birthday and unveiling of the Roas Parks Postage Stamp as well as the unveiling of the Emancipation Proclamation Postage Stamp. The event was held at First Baptist Capitol Hill in the afternoon of March 26. The event was co-hosted by seven organizations and Rep. Brenda Gilmore, Tennessee District #54, TN Coordinator, Social Action, who also presided.
Rev. Dr. Kelly Miller Smith, Jr., pastor, First Baptist Capitol Hill, co-host, welcomed the guests to the church, stating his pleasure in being able to share the facilities on this occasion. He said, “This church was a place where civil rights persons were trained; and many meeting were held.” Rev. Smith is the son of the Rev. Kelly Miller Smith, Sr., a person who made great strides in the Civil Rights Movement in Nashville. There were also welcomes from Theresa Fennell, president, A-PLUS, co-host and Tracy Mofield, U.S.P.S., Nashville Postmaster, co-host.
Remarks were given by other co-hosts, which included, the Rev. Olivia M. Cloud, president, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Nashville Alumnae Chapter; Dr. Maggie Wright, president, The Minerva Foundation, Inc.; Dr. LaMonica Stewart, president,Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Nashville Metropolitan Alunmae Chapter; Dr. John Arrandondo, president, NAACP-Nashville Branch; and Robyn Dubreus, president, National Hook-p of Black Women (NHBW).
Rev. Cloud shared something to think about regarding the stamps being unveiled. “Millions of people were affected by Rosa Parks setting the bus; and there has been a lot of coverage regarding President Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation — but neither of them did what they did in order to have a stamp named for their action.”
Dr. Arrandondo made an interesting observation. He said that both Lincoln and Parks understood time and place. “Lincoln did not do much for setting the slaves free, but his understanding of time and place … he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation at that time, he had no choice …,” he said. “When Rosa Parks sat down she knew it was not time. She had a choice.”
Others participating in the program were the Rev. Dr. W. Antoni Sinkfield, who prayed and Pam Owens who recognized special guests, Senator Thelma Harper and former Councilpersons Ludye Wallace, Kwami Lillard, and Vivian Wilhoite.
Dr. Lorraine W. Greene, chair, Nashville Alumnae Chapter Social Action Committee, shared a historical depiction of Rosa Parks. “Rosa Parks was not physically tired, she was tired of being discriminated against,” Greene said. Dean Upton Sheard, member, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Oak Ridge Alumnae Chapter, gave a historical depiction of the Emancipation Proclamation. She said, “The Emancipation Proclamation allowed the escaped slaves the freedom not to be returned back to their owners …”
For the actual unveiling all of the participants and more gathered near the large photos of the stamps, joining them in a toast were Moses W. Fisher, Jr. and Kwame Lillard, Civil Rights activist and CEO and founder, African American Alliance. Fisher said, “I salute the great queen of American history, Mrs. Rosa Parks …” Lillard led a chant, that he said should be taught to the youth – “Rosa, Rosa Parks, we will keep her in our hearts.” Senator Harper reminded the group that she and Rep. Mary Pruitt sponsored the Bill to re-name Metro Center Blvd., Rosa Parks Blvd.
Piedmont Natural Gas sponsored the event.