U.S. postage stamps were in use for nearly a century before Booker T. Washington became the first African American to appear on one. A handful of additional black history-related designs appeared between 1940 and 1978, when the U.S. Postal Service introduced the Black Heritage series. Today the Black Heritage issues are the longest-running U.S. stamp series.
5¢ Emancipation Proclamation Concept Stamp Art by Georg Olden, c. 1963
This bold, allegorical commemorative for the hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation was the first U.S. postage stamp designed by an African American. A marginal notation indicates that the design was approved by President Kennedy.
Loan from the United States Postal Service, Postmaster General's Collection