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Thurgood Marshall Second-Day Ceremony - Chicago
January 10, 2003

By Randall Sherman

More than 200 people crowded into the James B. Parsons Ceremonial Courtroom at the Dirksen Federal Building on Friday, January 10 for a second-day Dedication Ceremony for the new Thurgood Marshall Black Heritage Stamp.

The ceremony, which commemorated the issuance of the 37-cent stamp honoring America's first African-American Supreme Court Justice, included comments by special guest Cheryl Brown Henderson, executive director of the Brown Foundation and daughter of Oliver Brown, the lead plaintiff in the Brown v. Board of Education case (which Marshall successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court).

The ceremony was so significant that it included the appearance of a Democratic Ward Committeeman (Congressman Bobby Rush) and a Chicago Alderman (Emma Mitts of the 37th Ward) in the Federal Courthouse facility without having been subpoenaed or indicted! (Since enough members of the Chicago City Council have been convicted of assorted federal misdeeds in that building over the past 30 years to comprise a quorum — not to mention numerous other prominent local politicians of both political parties — it was not surprising that other elected officials shied away from the ceremony site.)

The audience also heard a spell-binding speech from keynote speaker Thomas N. Todd, a former civil rights attorney, who completed his praise of Marshall and his career simply by saying, "Well done." Yet those words, and the remarks which preceded it, were more than enough to bring the audience to a standing ovation.

The ceremony was also marked by the introduction of the four recipients of the Thurgood Marshall Scholastic Awards, which were sponsored by Pepsi-Cola. The students, one from each of the city's four high schools with Public Safety & Law Academy Programs, each received a $500 U.S. Savings Bond.

Receiving the awards were Donzell Reynolds of Calumet Career Academy, Marquita Kinds of Hirsch High School, Jasmina Sarajlija of Mather High School and Jeanette Velazquez of Wells High School. Fellow members of their school's Public Safety & Law Academy Programs assisted as hosts for the ceremony, helping distribute the ceremony programs prepared by the U.S. Postal Service.

The ceremony also marked the presentation of the winners of the Thurgood Marshall Essay Contest (which was sponsored by area supermarket chain Dominick's). Three first place awards, three second place awards and four third place awards were issued to students from Chicago's public high schools.

The first place award winners were Hirsch H.S. Junior Montriece Ward and Hubbard H.S. Seniors Rafal Sobota and Marissa Nino. The second place award winners were Wells Community Academy H.S. Sophomore Geraldo Diaz, Calumet Career Academy Junior Carmen Foster and Hubbard H.S. Senior Alejandra Chavarria. The third place award winners were Wells Community Academy H.S. Sophomores Candace Sanjurja and Rosemary Paniagua, Calumet Career Academy Junior Renitra Smith and Hubbard H.S. Senior Suzanna Ramirez.

The Chicago Post Office prepared a special "Thurgood Marshall Station" pictorial cancellation for the ceremony. This cancellation is available for a 30-day period (until February 9) from the Chicago Post Office. Requests for the special cancellation can be made by sending a stamped envelope or postal card (with at least First Class postage on it; the new Thurgood Marshall Stamp will suffice) and mailing it (along with a self-addressed stamped envelope to return the stamped cover(s) to you) to:

CHICAGO, IL 60607-9998

The Chicagoland FDC Society has prepared a limited number of cachets with the Marshall Stamp and the pictorial cancellation. Further information about them can be obtained at shermanrandall@hotmail.com.

Click Here for the First Day Ceremony by Jay Bigalke

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