BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP — The niece of civil-rights icon Rosa Parks will be at the African American Heritage Museum of Southern New Jersey on Saturday to talk about her aunt’s life, as the museum celebrates the issuance of a postage stamp honoring Parks.
Shirley McCauley, of Louisville, Ky., will talk about her relationship with Parks, said museum co-founder and Director Ralph Hunter, 75, of Atlantic City.
Stamp collectors and history buffs are expected to converge on the museum for the event in the Newtonville section of the township. It is the only celebration in New Jersey where people can get special cancellations of the U.S. Postal Service Forever Stamp, Hunter said.
The stamp was released nationally Monday on what would have been Parks’ 100th birthday, Post Office spokesman Raymond Daiutolo said.
Parks is best known for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery, Ala., bus in 1955, and sparking a bus boycott that brought attention to civil rights across the nation. But she was also a spiritual leader to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and to Montgomery First Baptist Church Pastor Ralph Abernathy, who organized the boycott with King and was his partner in many other efforts, Hunter said.
“They worked very, very closely,” Hunter said. “I never had the pleasure of meeting her. But I shook the hand that shook her hand,” he said of other activists.
Parks died in 2005 at age 92 in Detroit.
Hunter said people who attend on Saturday can get stamps canceled with the museum logo from the Newtonville Post Office, a partner in the event.
“Some people save them; some people send them,” the Post Office’s Daiutolo said of the special cancellations. “Collectors enjoy these events.”
He said the Newtonville Post Office will present an enlargement of the stamp to the museum, and will have special philatelic products on sale Saturday.
The museum will open two new exhibits Saturday. One shows recent works by visual artist Glynnis Reed, of Egg Harbor Township. The other is a collection of archival newspapers that date to the 1700s, owned by Paul Gibson, of Willingboro, Burlington County.
“(The newspapers) talk about the struggle, the lynchings, ... and all the different things that took place in Washington, Detroit and Memphis,” Hunter said. “From Medgar Evers (a World War II veteran who was involved in efforts to integrate the University of Mississippi and was assassinated by a member of the White Citizens’ Council in 1963) to the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, from the selling of slaves to President Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago, it’s a wonderful, eclectic collection of newspapers.”
Reed’s mixed-media collages explore issues of race, identity, sexuality and power using digital photography and text. The Reed and Gibson exhibits will be on display until May 1.
The Postal Service issued the stamp Monday during the National Day of Courage celebration at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich., where the Rosa Parks bus is on exhibit.
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