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The UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

First Day of Issue Ceremony 
March 9, 2024
Church Creek, MD

 

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        The Postal Service celebrated the ingenuity, bravery and resilience of the men and women who helped guide enslaved people to freedom before the Civil War at the March 9 dedication ceremony for the Underground Railroad stamps.

The event was held in Church Creek, MD, at a visitor center named for Harriet Tubman, a conductor for the Underground Railroad and one of the 10 people featured on the stamps.

            “For many enslaved African Americans, the Underground Railroad was their only hope to escape the brutality of slavery,” said Ronald A. Stroman, a member of the USPS Board of Governors. “The Underground Railroad demonstrated the power of collective action and solidarity in achieving social change, even when the odds seemed insurmountable.”

The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses that assisted and safeguarded enslaved people in their flight to freedom.

          The stamps feature sepia-toned portraits of important figures in the cause, including Tubman, Catharine Coffin, Frederick Douglass, Thomas Garrett, Laura Haviland, Lewis Hayden, Harriet Jacobs, William Lambert, Jermain Loguen and William Still.

“I am honored to participate in this dedication that celebrates Harriet Tubman and other operatives of the Underground Railroad,” said Millicent Sparks, an actor and writer who performed as Tubman at the ceremony.

“Their secret network aiding in the escapes of enslaved people aggravated the institution of slavery so badly that a war was fought over it…. All of these individuals are the reason we wake up free every morning,” she said.

            The ceremony’s other speakers were Joshua Kurtz, Maryland secretary of natural resources; Deanna Mitchell, superintendent of the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park; historian Kate Clifford Larson; Daniel Hunter, an author and activist; and Antonio Alcalá, an art director for USPS who designed the stamps.

            Other participants included descendants of some of the people honored on the stamps: Ernestine “Tina” Wyatt and Douglas Mitchell, descendants of Tubman; Bob Seeley, a descendant of Garrett; historian Valerie Still; and Tarence Bailey Sr., a descendant of Douglass. Angela Crenshaw, director of the Maryland Park Service, served as master of ceremonies.

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The Underground Railroad was the network used by enslaved black Americans to obtain their freedom in the 30 years before the Civil War (1860-1865). The “railroad” used many routes from states in the South, which supported slavery, to “free” states in the North and Canada.  It is estimated that as many as 100,000 Black men, women, and children escaped slavery to free states in the North or to Canada with the help of the Underground Railroad.

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Ronald A. Stroman, USPS Board of Governors

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Dr. Kate Clifford Larson,

Historian

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Superintendent Deanna Mitchell

of National Park Service

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Bob Seeley is descendant

of Thomas Garrett

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     Tina Wyatt is the great grandniece

of Harriet Tubman

Millicent Sparks as Harriet Tubman at ceremony

(Picture Gallery)

Ceremony Videos 
ESPER Members Attending Ceremony
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ESPER Members group photo

The Underground Railroad Stamp Ceremony was held on Saturday March 9, 2024 in Church Creek, Maryland. The Ceremony was held at the Harriett Tubman Underground Railroad Visitor Center.   It was raining that day but the weather did not stop a large crowd of approximately 200 persons from attended the ceremony. The USPS had set up two tents for the ceremony. A small tent was set up where you could purchase Underground Railroad (UR) stamps and other ceremony items (i.e. Commemorative Panels, UR Stamp Art, First Day Covers, etc.) and have your postal items cancelled.  A gigantic tent was setup for the ceremony. A large number of those attending were family members of the stamp honorees. ESPER was well represented with over 30 members in attendance. There were members from the states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina and a bus load from Maryland.  Each person attending received the UR ceremony program and a Harriett Tubman UR stamp pin.

By Howard Ingram, ESPER President

A few members pictures

Photos at Harriet Tubman Museum and  Educational Center
First Day of Issue Underground Program
Underground Railroad Stamps with Bio Attached
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Lewis Hayden.webp
William Still stamp.webp
Fredireck Douglass new stamp.webp
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Jermain Loguen Stamp.webp
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Photos courtesy of Betty Sessions and USPS
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