Black America from Civil War to Civil Rights

Black Heritage Stamp Series Portraiture

The Black Heritage series has always commemorated people rather than organizations or events. As a result, its attraction lies in the strength of its portraiture. This presents challenges when representing early subjects for whom there are few source images, but it has also produced stunning and memorable designs.

15¢ Benjamin Banneker approved stamp art by Jerry Pinkney, c. 1980

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The only known image of the scientist and surveyor Benjamin Banneker is a very crude woodcut from the cover of his 1795 Almanac. Nevertheless, the illustrator delivered a sensitive and believable portrait for this stamp.

Loan from the United States Postal Service, Postmaster General's Collection

 

22¢ Jean Baptiste Point du Sable approved stamp art by Thomas Blackshear II, c. 1987

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There are no extant portraits of Chicago pioneer du Sable or his cabin; other artists’ conceptions inspired Blackshear’s haunting portrait.

Loan from the United States Postal Service, Postmaster General's Collection

 

37¢ Marian Anderson approved stamp art by Albert Slark, c. 2005

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Canadian-born artist Albert Slark created this full-color oil portrait of Marian Anderson from a circa 1934 black-and-white photograph. Easily one of the most beautiful designs in the Black Heritage series, it won numerous awards and was exhibited at the Society of Illustrators 48th Annual Exhibition in New York City.

Loan from the United States Postal Service, Postmaster General's Collection

Contralto Marian Anderson 1939 Lincoln Memorial concert

We have an official announcement of the attendance. The United States Park Police officially estimate the attendance at over seventy-five thousand. And now Miss Marian Anderson has gone back to the concert platform for the second half of her program, which will consist of three spirituals: Gospel Train, Trampin’, and My Soul is Anchored in the Lord.

Oh, the Gospel train am a-comin',
I hear it just at hand,
I hear the car wheels rumblin',
And rollin' through the land.

And get on board, little children,
Get on board, little children,
Get on board, little children,
There's room for many a-more.

I hear the train a-comin',
She's comin' round the curve,
She's loosened all her steam and brakes,
And strainin' every nerve.

And get on board, little children,
Get on board, little children,
Get on board, little children,
There's room for many a-more.

The fare is cheap and all can go,
The rich and poor are there,
No second class aboard this train,
No difference in the fare.

Get on board, little children,
Get on board, little children,
Get on board, little children,
There's room for many a-more.