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Sims' stamp released

By By TRACIE TROHA – For The Standard
It's not that often a community gets excited over new postage stamps, but when word spread that Bernice Sims had a stamp involving Selma in the latest U.S. Postal Service commemorative stamp collection, people came out in droves for the unveiling.
Nearly every seat in the Walton Theater in Selma was filled on Tuesday, and included in the audience were familiar faces such as State Sen. Hank Sanders and former Gov. Don Siegelman.
The new stamps, entitled "To Form a More Perfect Union," features 10 illustrations of memorable events that took place across the South during the Civil Rights Movement, including the Selma-to-Montgomery March.
Political figures including Georgia Congressman John Lewis and Alabama Congressman Artur Davis spoke at the unveiling, along with Selma Mayor James Perkins Jr., local historian Alston Fitts and Don Murphy, deputy director of the National Park Service.
Lewis, who was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge during "Bloody Sunday", which led to the Selma-to-Montgomery march, said he hoped the new stamps will inspire younger generations to study the Civil Rights Movement.
Lewis said younger generations are taking less of an interest in the political process and they need to be better informed about the previous struggles to obtain the right to vote.
Davis' statements echoed those of Lewis, saying there are still struggles taking place across Alabama.
Local historian Alston Fitts described Dallas County as a place with a "proud political tradition" where the first black congressman was elected, where the first black county commissioners served and as home to two black colleges.
He added, however, that he "thanks God every night that my children didn't grow up in the kind of Alabama I grew up in."
The stamp depicting the Selma-to-Montgomery March is a reproduction of a painting entitled "Selma Bridge Crossing" by Sims.
The painting shows in vivid colors a group of people crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge.The Brewton Post Office will officially unveil Sims' stamp on Wednesday, Sept. 7 at 2 p.m. The public is invited to the unveiling and meet Sims, who will also be in attendance.
Post Office worker Tracy Palmer said this week that the stamp is currently on sale now and people have been asking for the stamp all week.
Sims said she was taught to paint at an early age by an "old maid" aunt, but did not become a professional artist until her 50s.
Sims described her artwork as a "memory painter," focusing on people and scenery she remembered from her childhood.
Sims, who attended the unveiling ceremony held in Montgomery this week, said she learned her painting was selected to be a part of the commemorative stamp sheet at the beginning of the year.
Sims said she hopes her stamp will encourage people to participate in their government.
Along with the Selma to Montgomery March, the stamp collection also features the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the 1963 March on Washington, D.C.
The Selma unveiling was held simultaneously with other ceremonies across the country, including Washington, D.C.
Siegelman, who attended the Selma ceremony, said he was impressed with Alabama's portrayal in the stamp sheet.