In 1978, the U.S. Postal Service created the Black Heritage stamp series as a tribute to outstanding black Americans. Robinson, Micheaux, Du Bois, and Truth share rank with 30 other black honorees who have been commemorated since the first annually issued stamp debuted nearly four decades ago. Harriet Tubman was the first person observed in the series.
Despite the fact that the first official Black Heritage stamp was not issued until 1978, more than 100 African Americans have been represented on stamps dating back more than 70 years. The A list includes Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, Salem Poor, and Louis Armstrong—to name a few.
More than 5,000 different subjects, including notable individuals, state themes, military history, and even Superman, have been represented on stamps since the postal service first began printing them in 1847.
“This is one of the highest honors an individual can receive,” said Roy Betts, manager of Community Relations at the U.S. Postal Service in Washington, D.C. “We receive tens of thousands of suggestions each year.”
Lately there has been talk of nominating Michael Jackson, the late King of Pop. But Betts, a 25-year veteran at the Postal Service, said Jackson will not be officially discussed until he has been deceased a minimum of two years, in compliance with a Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee policy.
Each year, professional stamp collectors, philatelic experts, and stamp enthusiasts anticipate the unveiling of the newest edition to the Black Heritage series. This year, Barbara Jordan, a former Texas congresswoman who died of complications related to Leukemia in 1996, will succeed late film director Oscar Micheaux—the 2010 nominee.
The Barbara Jordan stamp, which will go on sale in September of 2011, was created by award-winning artist Albert Slark of Ajax, Ontario, Canada. Each Black Heritage stamp is unique, and the Jordan stamp is no exception. Slark created the image for the stamp by first painting Jordan’s portrait with oil paints using an undated black-and-white photograph for reference. It was then scaled down to size in order to fit the stamp template.With Black History month in full swing, the U.S. Postal Service is not only filling local branches with a sufficient supply of the latest Black Heritage stamp, it has also been forced to respond to unusual recurring customer concerns about the fate of the series.(washingtoninformer.com)