Shirley Chisholm & 10 Other Black Women Honored With A Postage Stamp

January 30, 2014  |  
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In case you hadn’t heard, Brooklyn native, Shirley Chisholm’s postage stamp will be revealed today. She’s certainly deserving a joins quite a nice list of other black women who have received such an honor. See who these women are on the following pages.

Shirley Chisholm (2014)

Chisholm was the first black woman to be elected to Congress in 1968 and served seven terms. She was also the first African American (man or woman) to run for the United States presidency. The call for Chisholm to receive a postage stamp began shortly after her death. The person who really took the lead to get the stamp made was a former Chisholm intern in the late ’60’s and ’70’s, current Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California.

And now, nine years later, it’s finally a reality.

Throughout her career, Chisholm championed causes like civil rights, advocating for early childhood education and women’s rights.

Chisholm’s stamp will be unveiled Friday in Brooklyn Borough Hall this Friday.

Harriet Tubman (1978, 1995)

If anyone deserves a stamp it’s Harriet Tubman. The woman literally risked her life time and time again for not only the freedom of herself but the freedom of others. She deserves high praise and not tacky, comedy videos that make light of her legacy. The Postal service recognized this and in 1978, she was the first African American woman to appear on a postage stamp. And then she appeared on it again in 1995.

Mary McLeod Bethune (1985)

Born to parents who had been slaves, McLeod Bethune was known as an educator and Civil Rights leader. She started a school for African American girls in Daytona Beach, Florida which eventually became Bethune-Cookman University. She used the school as a way to show the capabilities of educated African Americans and it often rivaled or bested the achievements and standards of white schools.  Towards the end of her career, McLeod Bethune became an advisor for President Franklin D. Roosevelt and served on what was called his “Black Cabinet.” There she shared the concerns of blacks with the administration.

Sojourner Truth (1986)

African American abolitionist and women’s rights activist, Sojourner Truth was born into slavery by escaped with her infant daughter to freedom in 1826. She went to court to retrieve her son and became the first black woman to win this type of case against a white man. She is best known for her impromptu speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?” delivered in 1851 at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention. During the Civil War she attempted to recruit black troops for the Union army and afterward she tried to secure land grants for blacks.

Ida B Wells (1990)

Born a slave in 1862, Ida B Wells would go on to become a  journalist and newspaper editor by trade. Wells spent her life as a leader in the civil rights movement. She was best known for documenting the lynchings that were taking place across America. Her work showed how unjust, racist and discriminatory the practice was and how it often used to terrorize and disenfranchise blacks. Wells was also involved in the women’s rights and women’s suffrage movements.

Ethel Waters (1994)

Waters was best known for her career in jazz, big band, gpspel and pop music. She also participated in Broadway stage plays and other concerts. Her most popular songs include “Stormy Weather,” “Am I Blue?” and her rendition of “His Eye Is on the Sparrow.” In 1962, Waters became the first Afican American to be nominated for an Emmy.


Bessie Coleman (1995)

As the picture may reveal, Bessie Coleman was an aviator. But before then she was a manicurist listening to the stories of pilots come from from the war. But when Coleman went to flight school no one would admit her because of her race and gender. Even black pilots wouldn’t train her. She had to leave the country in order to learn to fly. Her hard work and perseverance made her the first female,  African American pilot. From there she became the first American hold an international pilot’s license.

Madam C.J. Walker (1998)

You know Madame C.J. Even though she’s credited as developing products and technologies to straighten the hair, Madam C.J. Walker (Sarah Breedlove) was adamant that her main goal was to grow hair. And apparently people believed in her products. She went from selling her wares door to door to opening her own manufacturing company in Indianapolis. But while she becoming a millionaire, she also made sure to give back and empower both men and women in the black community.

Zora Neale Hurston (2003)

Google is not the only organization to honor Hurston. After living the end of her life poor and in obscurity, the United States Postal Service decided to place the Harlem Renaissance author and anthropologist on a stamp.

Hattie McDaniel (2006)

Hattie McDaniel, the first black woman to win an Academy Award for her supporting role in Gone With The Wind. While Gone With The Wind is the role she’s most famous for she  actually participated in over 300 films but was only credited for 80. In addition to the barrier she broke in her acting career, McDaniel was also the first black woman to sing opera on the radio. To date, she is the only Oscar winner honored with a postage stamp.

Ella Fitzgerald (2007)

During Fitzgerald’s 59 year recording career, she sold over 40 million copies of the 70 plus albums she released. Fitzgerald, known for her horn-like tonal quality, won 13 Grammys, was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H.W. Bush.

This is not an exhaustive list. Which other black women do you remember appearing on U.S. postage stamps?

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