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Clearing hurdles

Title IX stamps dedicated

Amber McReynolds, a member of the USPS Board of Governors, addresses the audience at the Title IX stamp dedication ceremony.

Title IX, a set of four stamps celebrating the 50th anniversary of the civil rights law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational entities receiving federal funds, was dedicated March 3 in Washington, DC.

Amber McReynolds, a member of the Postal Service Board of Governors, spoke at the event, which was held at the U.S. Department of Education.

Other speakers included Deputy Education Secretary Cindy Marten and Catherine Lhamon, assistant secretary of the Office of Civil Rights in the Department of Education.

Also delivering remarks were Sheila Johnson, president of the Washington Mystics basketball team; Melinda Beck, the stamp’s artist and designer; and two battle-scarred athletes from before the law’s passage: tennis great Billie Jean King and Donna de Varona, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in swimming.

All spoke of the law in personal as well as historic terms, and many noted with satisfaction that young women today are often oblivious to the tectonic changes wrought by Title IX.

McReynolds, a former high school and college athlete, said she is thankful her daughter “will grow up knowing these rights are not only deserved but expected.”

Johnson praised her team and lauded the confidence and tech savvy of the current generation of female athletes.

“Equality is accessibility without having to demand it,” she said.

King, who delivered her remarks in a prerecorded video, remembered working two jobs as a college athlete while male players of similar talent enjoyed full scholarships.

De Varona recalled noticing that less than a third of the events at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, which she was covering as a sports journalist in that transformational year, were open to women.

The law “forever changed how girls and women experience life in the United States,” she said.

Lhamon, of the Office of Civil Rights, pointed out that for all the law’s considerable progress, it has been challenged every year of its existence.

“Continued progress requires all of our continued vigilance,” she said.

Beck said she chose to adorn the subjects of her stamps with laurels, which Greek goddess Nike bestowed on battle victors, “for the battles they will fight on, and off, the field.”

Marten praised USPS for choosing to honor Title IX.

“A stamp is a perfect way to honor this transformational law,” she said, adding that it’s fitting Title IX is now immortalized on Forever stamps.

“Title IX is a forever commitment,” she said.

“The best way to honor this anniversary is to continue to fight so that all students of all identities feel protected, cared for and nurtured.”