Stamp of Approval: 29 Black Women Honored with Commemorative Postage

Jazz legend Sarah Vaughan is being recognized for her contributions to the world of music with an official stamp from the United States Postal Service. She isn’t the first Black woman celebrated in this way—here are 28 other stars of color whose legacies are celebrated in stamps.

Lauren Porter Mar, 25, 2016

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Legendary jazz singer and Grammy Hall of Famer Sarah Vaughan will be honored with a Commemorative Forever Stamp that will be released on March 29, 2016. A ceremony will take place at the Sarah Vaughan Concert Hall at Newark Symphony Hall in Newark, N.J.

2 of 29 Bettmann / Contributor

Grand Slam athlete Althea Gibson was a star on the tennis court. She was the first African-American to cross the color line of the sport internationally. She won a total of 11 Grand Slams and has been inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame. Her stamp was issued in 2013.

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In 1995, Bessie Coleman, the first African American woman to earn a pilot’s license, was honored with a U.S. Postal stamp.

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Legendary blues singer Bessie Smith, known as “The Empress of the Blues," was honored with a stamp in 1994.

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“Lady Day” Billie Holliday was honored with her own U.S. Postal stamp in 1994.

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Gospel singer Clara Ward was honored with a commemorative stamp in 1998.

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Inducted into both the Alabama Jazz Hall of Hame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Dinah Washington's musical contributions were further honored with a U.S. Postal stamp in 1993.

8 of 29 John D. Kisch/Separate Cinema Archive/Getty Images

“Dream a Little Dream of Me” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If it Ain’t Got That Swing)” are just a few of the songs from Ella Fitzgerald that made her one of the musical greats. A commemorative stamp celebrating her work was issued in 2007.

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Actress and singer Ethel Waters was the second African-American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award as well as the first woman to be nominated for an Emmy. Her commemorative stamp was issued in 1994.

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Poet Gwendolyn Brooks was honored with a commemorative stamp in 2012.

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The “conductor” of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman was honored with a stamp in 1978. She was the first Black woman to receive the honor.

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Civil Rights Activist and journalist Ida B. Wells was honored with a commemorative stamp in 1990.

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The U. S. Postal Service issued a commemorative stamp honoring singer, actress and activist Josephine Baker in 2008. 

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Black haircare pioneer Madam C.J. Walker was honored with a commemorative stamp in 1998.

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The “Queen of Gospel” Mahalia Jackson was honored with a stamp in 1998.

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Marian Anderson—the first African-American to perform with the Metropolitan Opera in 1955—was honored with a commemorative stamp in 2006.

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Activist and educator Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman University, was honored by the USPS in 1985.

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Patricia Roberts Harris was the first Black woman to head a law school, serve as a U.S. ambassador and hold a cabinet position for a sitting president. She was honored with a commemorative stamp in 2000.

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A woman of political conviction, Shirley Chisholm became the first woman to become elected to Congress and both the first African-American and woman to launch a presidential campaign. Her forever stamp was released in 2014.

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Gospel, rock and blues would be nothing without the influence of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Her commemorative stamp was released in 1998.

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Abolitionist Sojourner Truth was honored with a U.S. Postal stamp in 1986.

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Born with polio, Wilma Rudolph overcame her illness to become a Gold medalist Olympian in track and field sprinting. She was honored by the USPS in 2004.

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Novelist and playwright Zora Neale Hurston was honored with a stamp in 2003.

25 of 29 Mondadori Portfolio by Getty Images

An illustrated stamp for George Gershwin's opera "Porgy and Bess" was issued in 1993. The opera has been adapted numerous times on Broadway once with Sidney Poitier and Dorothy Dandridge as the title characters. 

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“Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey received a stamp in 1994 and recorded numerous songs devoted to sexuality and relationships in the African-American community.

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For her contributions to the civl rights movement—including the mentorship of Diane Nash and Rosa Parks—as well as the human rights movement, Ella Baker became one of the most influential women of the 20th century. Her stamp was issued in 2009.

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In 1998, the gospel singer became one of four gospel women honored with a stamp. Her catalog of over 275 gospel songs including “He Knows Just How Much We Can Bear,” Let it Be,” and “Just Jesus and Me” cemented her legacy in music history.

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Rosa Parks, one of the most iconic women in Black History, was honored with a stamp in 2013.