Monday, April 6, 2015

Alabama on U.S. Postage Stamps (1): Some African-Americans

Alabama people and themes have been featured on numerous U.S. postage stamps over the years, and I want to explore some of them in a few posts. Other nations have also honored Alabamians in this way.

My father Amos J. Wright, Jr., was a stamp collector in the 1960's and gave my brother Richard and I an appreciation of the hobby. I still collect them, although they simply end up in a shoe box. We still have my dad's stamp albums, as well as several boxes of stamps that never made it into albums. He pretty much dropped the hobby when his interest turned to Alabama archaeology

The stamps below feature African-Americans connected with our state in some way. I've added comments on some of them.

The U.S. Postal Service recently featured "Stamps Reflect History of Tuskegee University" on its blog.

10c Booker T. Washington stamp, issued April 7, 1940

This stamp featuring Booker T. Washington was issued on April 7, 1940, and was the first U.S. stamp to honor an African-American.

BTW 1956 Commemorative Stamp

Another stamp was issued in 1956 to honor the centennial of Washington's birth. 
Ralph Ellison 91¢

African-American author Ralph Ellison is best known for his 1952 novel Invisible Man. Ellison, who attended Tuskegee Institute, died in 1994. He arrived at Tuskegee on a music scholarship but left to study the visual arts in New York City. He eventually detoured into writing. This stamp was issued on February 14, 2014.

George Washington Carver

This George Washington Carver stamp was issued on February 3, 1998. I recently described "That Time Mom Saw George Washington Carver in Camp Hill" on this blog.

Florence, Alabama native William "W.C." Handy had a long career as songwriter and arranger and is known as the Father of the Blues. He died in 1958 and this stamp was issued in 1969.

Although Tanner never visited Alabama as far as I know, I wanted to include him because his sister Halle Tanner Dillon Johnson has an important connection to the state. Henry Ossawa Tanner was the first African-American artist to achieve fame internationally. He moved to Paris in 1891 and remained there until his death in 1937. As I wrote in another post, his sister was "The First Certified, Practicing Female Physician in Alabama." She practiced at Tuskegee Institute for several years after finishing medical school in Philadelphia in the spring of 1891. Their father was Benjamin T. Tanner, a prominent minister in Pittsburgh. This stamp was issued in 1973

Jesse Owens

Jesse Owens is one of many legendary athletes born in Alabama.  This stamp was issued on September 10, 1998.

The United Arab Emirates featured Owens on a stamp in 1973.

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