The U.S. Postal Service started the Black Heritage stamp series in 1978 with a Harriet Tubman stamp to honor African Americans who played an integral role in U.S. history. Every year for Black History Month, the USPS issues a new addition to the collection. This year’s stamp, the 43rd, is dedicated to Gwen Ifill, a prominent journalist who worked both in print and broadcast news.
These photographs show some of the outstanding individuals featured in the series.
Abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman helped slaves escape to freedom. This portrait, from around 1868, by Benjamin F. Powelson is believed to be the earliest photograph of Tubman in existence. (Library of Congress)
Jazz and blues singer Linda Hopkins performs in 2006 at the unveiling of the Black Heritage stamp honoring Hattie McDaniel, the first African American to win an Academy Award for her role in the 1940 movie Gone With the Wind. (© Damian Dovarganes/AP Images)
Percy L. Julian in his laboratory in 1947. His synthesis of cortisone from soy beans reduced the price of cortisone, used in treating rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. (© AP Images)
Bessie Coleman was the first African American to receive a pilot’s license, which she earned in France after being denied entry into flight schools in the United States. She returned to the United States and performed in air shows as a stunt flyer. Photo from about 1920. (© Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Poet, novelist and playwright Langston Hughes was one of the leading voices in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, which celebrated black life and culture. Photo from about 1945. (© Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
In 1926, historian and educator Carter G. Woodson started the observance of Negro History Week, which has expanded to the celebration of Black History Month. Photo from about 1910. (© Hulton Archive/Getty Images)