Today the USPS is released a commemorative forever stamp in honor of legendary civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

The stamp is the second in a series of three civil rights stamps celebrating freedom, courage and equality and being issued this year. Last month, the USPS issued a stamp honoring the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and, later this year, will recognize the 50th anniversary the March on Washington.

The Rosa Parks Forever Stamp will go on sale nationwide Feb. 4, which would have been Parks’ 100th birthday, at local Post Offices, online at or by phone at 800-STAMP24 (800-782-6724).

A new book released last week titled “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks” hopes to dispel some myths about Parks. New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow’s review points out the book challenges “the romanticized, children’s-book story of a meek seamstress with aching feet who just happened into history in a moment of uncalculated resistance is pure mythology.”

Below are “12 Things You Didn’t Know about Rosa Parks” (from the “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis”)

  1. Raised by her mother and grandparents to be proud, Parks’ determination began as a young person. When a white boy pushed her, she pushed back. His mother threatened to kill her but Parks stood her ground, saying she didn’t want to be pushed. Another time, she confronted a white bully bothering her and her brother, holding up a brick and daring him to hit her. He went away.

  2. Her husband Raymond was “the first real activist I ever met.” When she married him, Raymond was working to free the nine Scottsboro boys and she joined these efforts. Raymond’s political outlook was crucial to her political development and their partnership sustained her political work over many decades.

  3. She was a lifelong believer in self defense and they kept a gun in the house, including during the boycott, because of the daily terror of white violence.

  4. She’d been thrown off the bus a decade earlier by this same bus driver for refusing to pay in the front and go around to board in the back—and had various run-ins with other bus drivers because she refused to re-board after paying. Parks knew well the cost of bus resistance. A neighbor at Cleveland Courts had been killed. 15-year-old Claudette Colvin arrested in March 1955 for her refusal to move had been manhandled, and Parks had spearheaded efforts to raise money for the case.

  5. She’d been working with the NAACP for more than a decade, doing the dangerous work of trying to document white brutality and legal malfeasance against black people. She had grown so discouraged with the lack of change that told fellow activists at a Highlander Folk School workshop she attended the summer before her bus stand that there would never be change in Montgomery because people wouldn’t stick together and white resistance was too fierce.

  6. Parks had no belief that her arrest would galvanize a mass movement. She had been “pushed as far as she could be pushed.” She didn’t “know if she would get off the bus alive” but still found her arrest “annoying” as it seemed, at the time, a distraction from the NAACP youth workshop she was planning for the weekend.

  7. Parks’ arrest had grave consequences for her family. She and her husband both lost their jobs. Even as she made appearances across the country, Parks and her family were at times nearly destitute. Her mother would stay on the phone for hours just to keep the line busy so death threats couldn’t be called in. The Parks’ economic and health troubles lasted for a decade after her arrest.

  8. She spends more than half of her life in the North, in Detroit—and lives for most of her time in Detroit in “the heart of the ghetto” (just a mile from the epicenter of the 1967 Detroit riot). She continues to organize and protest racial inequality in the North. “The promised land that wasn’t” she calls it.

  9. In 1964 she volunteers for the long-shot campaign of John Conyers for a new congressional seat and helps secure his victory in the crowded primary by convincing Martin Luther King to come to Detroit on Conyers behalf. One of the first things Conyers does when he is elected is hire Rosa Parks to work in his Detroit office, where she works until 1988. This is the first time in over twenty years of political work that she held a paid political position. Conyers’ office receives all sorts of hate calls and letters for hiring Parks.

  10. Her personal hero was Malcolm X.

  11. Parks worked alongside the Black Power movement particularly around issues such reparations, black history, anti-police brutality, freedom for black political prisoners, independent black political power, economic justice and an end to the War in Vietnam. She attended the Black Political Convention in Gary and the Black Power conference in Philadelphia. She journeyed to Lowndes County, Alabama to support the movement there, spoke at the Poor People’s Campaign, helped organize support committees on behalf of black political prisoners such as the Wilmington 10 and Imari Obadele of the RNA, and paid a visit of support to the Black Panther school in Oakland, CA.

  12. She was an internationalist. An early opponent of the war in Vietnam in the early 1960s, she was a member of WILPF and supporter of Winter Soldier hearings in Detroit and the Jeannette Rankin Brigade protest in DC. In the 1980s, she protested apartheid and US complicity, joining a picket outside the South African embassy and opposed US policy in Central America. Eight days after 9/11, she joins other activists in a letter calling for justice and saying this means working with the international community and no retaliation or war.

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