Today on Day’s to remember, we celebrate how on April 7th 1940, Booker T. Washington became the first black to be pictured on a U.S. postage stamp.
Who was Booker T. Washington, before becoming the first black man to be on a postage stamp?
Born a slave on a Virginia farm, Booker T Washington rose to become one of the most influential African-American intellectuals of the late 19th century.
Washington was also behind the formation of the National Negro Business League 20 years later, and he served as an adviser to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.
His widely read autobiography, Up from Slavery (1901), stands as a classic in the genre of narratives by American self-made men, as well as the prime source for Washington’s social and historical philosophy.
His racial philosophy did not long survive his death in 1915, but in theory and practice, his views on economic self-reliance have remained one of the deepest strains in Afro-American thought.
On April 7, 1940, the Post Office Department (POD) issued a stamp honoring African-American educator Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) as part of its Famous Americans Series.
The nation’s first stamp to honor an African-American, it holds a unique place in American history. Social, economic, and legislative struggles since 1940 have produced deeper understanding and acceptance among racial groups.
Today, the United States Postal Service (USPS) regularly honors African-Americans and their widely varied contributions to the nation and the world.
Were there other African American’s that had their portrait on the postage stamp?
George Washington Carver was commemorated with a three cent stamp in 1948. He was picked to receive a stamp for his work in science and how his work with the peanut and sweet potato industry helped farming continue to succeed when most thought the farming industry was on its last legs.
Paul Laurence Dunbar was awarded with a 10 cent stamp for his contributions to writing. While race relations were still hostile, at best, when he was given the stamp, his work was a small piece of common ground African-Americans and whites could find themselves. Paul Laurence Dunbar proved there’s nothing more powerful than the written word.
Before becoming famous, Frederick Douglass was different. He was born a slave and when his master sold him to a relative, he was taught how to read which was against the law in the 1800s. After escaping to freedom in 1833, Douglass continued to self-educate himself. He went on to become one of the loudest voices in the abolition of slavery.
Douglass was commemorated on a 25 cent stamp in 1967. Due to the fact there were different developing technologies at the time the stamp was being produced, there are several different versions of his stamp. His stamp was issued as part of the Prominent American’s Series.
Archer Alexander is a slave who became the face of freed slaves when he was immortalized in the form of the Emancipation Statue in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park. Alexander was a slave who made it his life’s goal to have freedom for himself and family.
Archer Alexander escaped from his Missouri plantation and found freedom in Illinois. While on the run, he avoided capture by warning Union soldiers of planned attacks Southern sympathizers were developing. Once slavery was legally outlawed in Missouri, Alexander was reunited with his wife and several of his ten children.
Archer Alexander’s likeness was placed on a stamp in 1940 to celebrate the anniversary of the 13th Amendment. It was important for Alexander’s picture to be featured on a stamp because he was the last slave to be captured under the Fugitive Slave Act.
I think its wonderful idea that postage stamps were issues to certain famous people who changed the world for us, in a good way.
As we celebrate how on April 7th 1940, Booker T. Washington became the first black to be pictured on a U.S. postage stamp.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell