New Black History Month stamp added to the meaningful collection
As most would acknowledge, the dynamic of Black history in America is riddled with complexities. The overlapping stories of American lives and cultures has often been a challenge to tell. The impact of slavery, the fight for freedom, the struggle for civil rights and economic parity have been at the heart of the African American story since the beginning.
So, I’d like to think that when Carter G. Woodson, who is credited with being the father of Black History, launched the celebration of “Negro History Week” in February 1926, it was with all of this in mind. Fifty years later, President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history” and became the first president to designate February as Black History Month. Since then, every U.S. President has maintained this long-standing tradition.
Black History Month is a meaningful time of year for me primarily because the media is flooded with the imagery and historical footage that reflects my cultural identity; which is often lacking throughout the year. During this time, television and radio programming, as well as, local community events highlight the many notable contributions of African Americans. It is also the time of year when The U.S. Postal Service® issues a new addition to the Black Heritage® Stamp Collection. The newest Forever® stamp in the series will feature civil rights activist Dorothy Height.
USPS Black Heritage® Stamps
In 1978, the U. S. Postal Service, as part of its mission to “celebrate the people, events, and cultural milestones that are unique to our great nation,” created a new stamp series to honor African-Americans and the vital role they have played in U. S. history called the Black Heritage Stamp series. This year celebrates the 40th consecutive new release.
Harriet Tubman stamp was the first in the series
The first stamp issued in the series featured Harriet Tubman. Tubman was born a slave in 1820 and is credited with helping over 300 enslaved men, women and children escape to freedom by way of the Underground Railroad.
Through the years other notable African-Americans who have been pioneers in education, civil rights, politics, entertainment, athletics and business have been featured. Among those celebrated are: George Washington Carver, James Baldwin, Sojourner Truth, Malcolm X, Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr and Rosa Parks.
Last year’s notable addition was Richard Allen who founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1816, forty-nine years before the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing Slavery was adopted. Last year’s Black Heritage stamp featuring Richard Allen is still available for sale on The Postal Store®.
The meaning behind the Black Heritage Stamp Collection
The contributions of African-Americans to the fabric of America is still news to many. Fortunately, the Black Heritage Stamp Collection serves not only to commemorate notable leaders who are easily recognizable to the masses, but to educate about the more obscure, yet profoundly significant historical figures who have impacted American life.
The Black Heritage Stamps serve as an opportunity to acknowledge African Americans who have affected change, built the infrastructure of America and altered the trajectory of this nation, for the better.
The USPS also offers education kits on several figures in black history.
Author: Gail Branham, USPS