U.S. Title IX stamps to debut March 3 in Washington, D.C.
By Charles Snee
On March 3, the United States Postal Service will issue four forever commemorative stamps in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the landmark 1972 civil rights law that forbids discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs that receive federal funding.
Title IX states: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
According to the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education, Title IX recipients “include
approximately 17,600 local school districts, over 5,000 postsecondary institutions, and charter schools, for-profit schools, libraries, and museums. Also included are vocational rehabilitation agencies and education agencies of 50 states, the District of Columbia, and territories of the United States.”
The Postal Service said, “Applied at educational institutions over a wide range of programs, [Title IX’s] most visible impact has been on school athletics.”
An official first-day ceremony for the Title IX stamps is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Thursday at the U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Ave., Washington, D.C.
Dedicating officials include Amber McReynolds, a member of the Postal Service’s board of governors; Cindy Marten, deputy secretary of the Department of Education; Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary of the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education; and Sheila Johnson, managing partner and governor of the Washington Mystics basketball team of the Women’s National Basketball Association.
The event is open to the public with limited seating. Those interested in attending can register online.
The Department of Education requires individuals who visit its facilities to provide their vaccination status. Individuals who are not fully vaccinated must provide proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test before visiting a federal building.
The USPS strongly encourages those attending to arrive 30 minutes before the event’s start to provide time for those screening measures. More information can be found online with the registration form.
Artist Melinda Beck designed the Title IX stamps, which picture a dark blue silhouette of one of four female athletes: a runner, swimmer, gymnast and soccer player. Each silhouette is set against a turquoise background that encourages the viewer’s eye to focus on the image of each athlete. Derry Noyes contributed to the stamps’ genesis as art director.
Yellow laurel branches meant to symbolize victory are seen on the athletes’ hair and on the swimmer’s cap.
“TITLE IX” is printed in two lines on the women’s cheeks. This pairing is “intended as an empowering message about the inclusion of women and girls in all educational settings,” according to the Postal Service.
Using its Muller A76 press, Ashton Potter USA Ltd. of Williamsville, N.Y., printed 30 million Title IX stamps that were processed into panes of 20 for sale at post offices. Each pane contains five of each of the four designs. Stamps from the panes may not be sold individually, the USPS said.
The stamps were printed on nonphosphored paper with block tagging using the four standard process color inks: cyan, magenta, yellow and black.
Representations of female athletes have appeared on U.S. stamps over the years. Many of these stamps were issued to celebrate the Olympic Games held in the summer and winter at regular intervals.
One of the four 13¢ stamps issued July 16, 1976, for the 12th Winter Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, and the 21st Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, pictures a stylized image of a woman diver about to enter the water (Scott 1695).
A dramatic image of women hurdlers appears on one of the five 29¢ stamps issued July 12, 1991, in anticipation of the Summer Olympic Games that would take place the following year in Barcelona, Spain.
To honor the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the USPS issued a se-tenant (side-by-side) pane of 20 32¢ stamps (Scott 3068), eight of which feature women athletes.
The Postal Service has prepared two pictorial postmarks as first-day cancels for the Title IX stamps.
Both the black postmark and color postmark feature “Title IX” in large sans serif letters and laurel branches.
A laurel branch on the black postmark forms one of the crossbars of the “X” in “IX,” while a turquoise laurel wreath wraps almost completely around the “IX” on the color postmark.
In both cancels, the design elements combine well with the powerful images on the stamps.
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