Part One: 2010 to 2020
The Black Heritage stamp series is the longest running commemorative stamp series in U.S. history. The Black Americans honored in the series are known for their contributions to U.S. history and culture, as activists, scientists, artists, actors/musicians, writers, educators, doctors, inventors, politicians, and more. In part one, we shared the first twelve people depicted in the Black Heritage series: 1978 to 1989. In part two, discover the next eight people depicted from 1990 to 1997. In part three, discover the honorees from 1998 to 2009.
Oscar Micheaux (1884-1951) was featured on the 2010 Black Heritage stamp. Oscar Micheaux was an author, film director, screenwriter, and producer who worked to break stereotypes with his storytelling and characters. He hired all black writers and actors for his films so that he could accurately dramatize his black audience’s lives onto the big screen. Micheaux received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Oscar Micheaux Award was created by the Producers Guild of America to honor people who overcame difficulties and would then accomplish great things in the film and television industry. The stamp (Scott 4464) was issued on June 22, 2010.
Barbara Jordan (1936-1996) was featured on the 2011 Black Heritage stamp. She was a lawyer and educator, and was the first AfricanAmerican woman to be elected to Texas legislature. She supported many pieces of legislation extending the federal protection of civil rights. Jordan also became the first woman and first African-American to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 1976. She was named as one of the most influential American women in the twentieth century by the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Included in Jordan’s many awards and honors is the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The stamp (Scott 4565) was issued on September 16, 2011.
John H. Johnson (1918-2005) was featured on the 2012 Black Heritage stamp. He was a magazine and book publisher, the first African American to attain major success in those fields, and perhaps the greatest minority entrepreneur in American history. Johnson’s business empire included magazines, radio stations, cosmetics, and more. His published magazines showcased African-American accomplishments: Negro Digest, Jet, and Ebony. He was awarded the Spingarn Medal, was named publisher of the year, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Johnson also served as a Special U.S. Ambassador for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. The stamp (Scott 4624) was issued on January 31, 2012.
Althea Gibson (1927-2003) was featured on the 2013 Black Heritage stamp. She was a pioneering American tennis player who dominated women’s competition in the late 1950s. Gibson was the first black player to win the French, Wimbledon, and U.S. Open singles championships. The tall, lean Gibson was fast, had a long reach, and relied on a booming serve and precise volleys. She blazed a trail for future generations of African-American players. Gibson helped integrate her sport at the height of the civil rights movement. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and continued to work in athletics after her retirement. The stamp (Scott 4803) was issued on August 23, 2013.
Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005) was featured on the 2014 Black Heritage stamp. She shattered barriers, spoke her mind, stood up for the disadvantaged, and in 1968 became the first black woman ever elected to Congress. Her motto and title of her autobiography—Unbossed and Unbought—illustrated her outspoken advocacy for women and minorities during her seven terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. She hired only women for her legislative office — half of those were African-American. She was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the National Women’s Political Caucus. Chisholm scored another historic first in 1972 when she declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President. The stamp (Scott 4856) was issued on January 31, 2014.
Robert Robinson Taylor (1868-1942) was featured on the 2015 Black Heritage stamp. As an architect and educator, he spent much of his career at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he supervised the design and construction of many of the buildings on campus while also overseeing the school’s programs in industrial education and the building trades. Taylor was the first African American to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and likely was the country’s first academically trained black architect. He served as second-in-command to its founder and first President, Booker T. Washington. The stamp (Scott 4958) was issued on February 12, 2015.
Richard Allen (1760-1831) was featured on the 2016 Black Heritage stamp. Born into slavery, he was an educator, writier, activist and abolitionist whose ardent writings would inspire future visionaries. After purchasing his freedom from slavery, Allen became a minister. In 1794, he founded the Bethel Church in Philadelphia, PA; however, it was controlled by white church leaders. In 1816, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, declared that the church could be independent of the white leaders and it became the AME Church. The Richard Allen issue coincided with the 200th anniversary of the founding of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. The stamp (Scott 5056) was issued on February 2, 2016.
Dorothy Height (1912-2010) was featured on the 2017 Black Heritage stamp. She was an activist who fought for the rights of women, especially women of color. Height helped to form the National Women’s Political Caucus, and was leader of the National Council of Negro Women when they joined the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership. She shared the stage with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., when he gave his “I Have a Dream” speech; however, because of her gender, she was not permitted to speak. The numerous honors bestowed upon her include the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1994) and the Congressional Gold Medal (2004). The stamp (Scott 5171) was issued on February 1, 2017.
Lena Horne (1917-2010) was featured on the 2018 Black Heritage stamp. She is known as one of the most popular African American entertainers of the twentieth century. Horne was a singer, actress and Civil Rights Activist who first established herself as an accomplished live singer and then transitioned into film work, known for films such as 'Cabin in the Sky' and 'The Wiz' as well as her trademark song, "Stormy Weather." She was also known for her work with civil rights groups and refused to play roles that stereotyped African American women, a stance that many found controversial. After some time out of the limelight during the '70s, she made a revered, award-winning comeback with her 1981 show Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music. The stamp (Scott 5259) was issued on January 30, 2018.
Gregory Hines (1946-2003) was featured on the 2019 Black Heritage stamp. He was an American tap dancer, actor, and choreographer who was a major figure in the revitalization of tap dancing in the late 20th century. Gregory Hines began dancing as a child and went on to launch a successful Broadway, television and film career. His notable movies include The Cotton Club and White Nights. In addition to his work on the dance and theatre stage, in film and on television, Hines' wide-ranging career also included making a 1987 album called Gregory Hines, and writing introductions for books Brotherhood in Rhythm. The stamp (Scott 5349) was issued on January 28, 2019.
Gwen Ifill (1955-2016) was featured on the 2020 Black Heritage stamp. She was a trailblazer in the profession among the first African Americans to hold prominent positions in both broadcast and print journalism. Ifill joined PBS as senior political correspondent, moderator and managing editor, becoming the first woman and first African American to moderate a major television news-analysis show. She was also the first African American female journalist to moderate a vice-presidential debate. In 2013, Ifill became part of the first all-female team to anchor a daily national broadcast news show, “PBS NewsHour.” Ifill’s alma mater, Simmons University, opened the Gwen Ifill College of Media, Arts, and Humanities in the fall of 2018. The stamp (Scott 5432) was issued on January 30, 2020.
The Black Heritage series currently has 43 subjects.
In 2017, the American Philatelic Society published its most recent update of the Black Heritage series album pages, available for free download now.
Interested in learning more about the Black Heritage series and black history on stamps? Check out ESPER, the Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections, which has excellent resources to share. Happy Black History Month!