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First Day Covers



I'm sick and tired of

being sick and tired.

-Fannie Hamer


Civil Rights leader

who in 1963 while

working on a voter

registration drive, was

beaten and jailed for

violating a restaurant's

'whites only' policy.


Medgar Evers Stamp


Our only hope is to

control the vote.

-Medgar Evers


Murdered by KKK

on June 12,1963

while working a voter registration drive




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In 2005 the U.S. Postal Service issued a series of stamps commemorating civil rights events and laws. The cancellation read, "To Form a More Perfect Union." Why not begin the new school year by allowing students to discuss the concept of a "perfect union," and if it is perfect, how can it become "more perfect"? Does having a voice in the government ensure a perfect union? One of the stamps in the series honored the 1963 March on Washington. Use this first day cover to add to the discussion of how a march or demonstration can lead to that more perfect union. The March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom took place on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. Students will remember the "I Have a Dream" speech by Dr. King, but many others prepared the way.

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)


Beginning in the 1930's, civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph first used the threat of a march on Washington to bring an end to discrimination in jobs during World War II. Pacifist leader Bayard Rustin, who had served two years in prison for being a conscientious objector in World War II, taught Dr. King about non-violence and organized all the details of the March. Women such as Rosa Parks (Montgomery Bus Boycott), Ella Baker (co founder of SCLC), and Ruby Hurley (NAACP Director) had helped get the movement to the day of the March but had no role the day of the March. Only Daisy Bates of the famous Little Rock Nine was asked during the ceremony to lead women in a pledge of support.

On March 3, 1913, fifty years before the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom, Alice Paul of the NAWSA led 300 suffragists in a March on Washington, to demand the right to vote for women. Have students compare the reaction to the two Marches, both by spectators and politicians. Why was there violence in 1913 but not in 1963? How did President Wilson and President Kennedy respond to these events? Did government action lead to a "more perfect" nation? What role does gender equity play in society? Is the right to vote, then and now, the key to a more perfect union?

For more information, the Boston public radio WGBH has archived the entire 1963 March on Washington. The Library of Congress archives contain "Marching for the Vote – Remembering the Suffrage Parade of 1913".

(click to enlarge)

(click to enlarge)



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