African Americans on Postage Stamps

J.R. Clifford and Joel Elias Spingarn

Civil Rights Pioneers

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42-cent J.R. Clifford and Joel Elias Spingarn stamp. The Civil Rights Pioneers Issue was released on February 21, 2009.

J.R. Clifford (1848-1933) was the first black attorney licensed in West Virginia. In two landmark cases before his state’s Supreme Court, he attacked racial discrimination in education. The image of J.R. Clifford is a detail from an undated photograph from the University of Massachusetts Library Special Collections.

Because coverage of blacks in the media tended to be negative, Joel Elias Spingarn (1875-1939) endowed the prestigious Spingarn Medal, awarded annually since 1915, to highlight black achievement. The portrait of Joel Elias Spingarn is dated in the 1920s and comes from the records of NAACP at the Library of Congress.

The Black Experience