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African Americans in the Postal Service and Philately

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37c Ethel L. Payne stamp, issued September 14, 2002 
An internationally recognized writer and commentator, Ethel L. Payne was a syndicated columnist and long-time reporter for the Chicago Defender, one of the leading African-American newspapers in the United States. She was the first African-American woman to receive accreditation as a White House correspondent. In her honor, the prestigious annual Ethel L. Payne International Award for Excellence in Journalism was established in 1998. (USPS Publication 512, Women on Stamps, April 2003)

The National Postal Museum celebrates African American history by providing online resources about the role of African Americans in the postal service and philately.

Screenshot The Black Experience exhibit

The Black Experience: African-Americans on Postage Stamps

Since the founding of the United States, African Americans have played a pivotal role in the shaping of American history and heritage. Their contributions to America have included the fields highlighted by the 1940 Famous Americans and many more. This virtual exhibit showcases the black experience in the United States through the lens of American postage stamps.

the Dr. Carter Woodson memorial at nightime

The Genesis of Dr. Carter Woodson's Negro History Week

When there were no academic journals to counter racist scholarship, Dr. Carter G. Woodson created one. When no professional presses would accept materials about African Americans, he founded one. Former Smithsonian Fellow Kimberly D. Brown explores Woodson and the origins of Black History Month.

Martin Luther King Jr. 'I Have a Dream' approved stamp art

Freedom Just Around the Corner: Black America from Civil War to Civil Rights

February 12, 2015 — February 15, 2016
A chronicle of the African American experience told from the perspective of stamps and mail. Includes letters carried by enslaved Americans, mail to and from famous leaders of the civil rights movement, and a significant selection of original artwork for the USPS Black Heritage stamp series from the Postmaster General’s Collection.

illustration of an African American baseball player

Negro Leagues Baseball Stamp Exhibit

October 20, 2010 — July 10, 2011
The Negro Leagues Baseball stamps pay tribute to the all-black professional baseball leagues that operated from 1920 to about 1960. From October, 2010 to July, 2011 the museum featured this original art produced by Kadir Nelson for the creation of the stamps.

Segregated Saddlebag

Object Spotlight: Segregated Saddlebag

While the outside of the saddlebag is innocuous enough, flipping open the mailbags on each side reveal a disturbing reality.

photo of an African American man with a white beard

The History and Experience of African Americans in the Postal Service

This article explores the unique history and experience of African Americans in America’s Postal Service, illustrating that the United States Postal Service has been both a place where African Americans were discriminated against, and a place where many African Americans found opportunities for advancement.

10 cent stamp with the face of Booker T. Washington

Object Spotlight: Booker T. Washington Stamp

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.

Alexander Haimann presenting at The National Association of Colored Women's Clubs

African American Women on Postage Stamps, by Alexander Haimann

A presentation by Alexander Haimann at The National Association of Colored Women's Clubs, Washington, DC, April 18, 2009. YouTube video.

photo of an African America woman holding a paper

Letter Writing in America: The Great Migration

This article explores the place of letter writing in American history, revealing through the words of its citizens the nature of American life and documenting the country’s search for a uniquely American identity.

photo of an African American young male postal worker

Untold Stories: African American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice, and Equality

By guest blogger Philip F. Rubio. On November 7, 1940, just two days after the election that President Franklin D. Roosevelt won for his third term, he signed Executive Order 8587 abolishing the civil service application photograph. This was no minor matter...

tinted photo of John T. Jackson

Postmaster John T. Jackson

On April 1, 1891 John T. Jackson became the postmaster of Alanthus, Virginia. When he began his career, the twenty-nine year old was greeted with threats from those unwilling to accept an African-American in that position. He remained in his job for 49 years, retiring in 1940.

wooden distribution case

John T. Jackson's Distribution Case

This distribution case belonged to John T. Jackson who served as postmaster of Alanthus, Virginia, for 48 years. When he began his career in 1891, the twenty-nine year old was greeted with threats from those unwilling to accept an African-American in that position.

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