African Americans on Postage Stamps

First African American on a Postage Stamp: Booker T. Washington

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10-cent dark brown Booker T. Washington single

On April 7, 1940 the United States released the 10-cent Booker T. Washington stamp as part of the 1940 Famous Americans Issue. This was the first time that an African American was commemorated on a United States postage stamp. The Famous Americans Issue included thirty-five different Americans who made important contributions to the fields of poetry, literature, education, science, music, art and mechanical innovation.

In 1881, Booker T. Washington became the first principal at Alabama’s Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (now Tuskegee University), and over the next several decades, he emerged as the foremost educator and spokesman for African Americans. Washington also helped found the National Negro Business League in 1900 and served as an advisor to presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

The Black Experience