10 Black Icons Who've Been Honored with Stamps by the USPS

Celebrate Black History Month with a look at 10 unique stamps honoring pioneers in music, civil rights, sports, politics and theater

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Jimi Hendrix

Jimi Hendrix stamp

In 2014, the rock legend scored his own supercool stamp, part of the USPS' Music Icons series and timed to the SXSW festival in Austin.

Illustrated by artist Rudy Gutierrez and designed by Greg Breeding, the stamp depicted Hendrix playing one of his white Fender Stratocaster guitars, dressed in one of his famous military-inspired jackets.

"While my brother has been cited many times as being among the most influential musicians of all time, the recognition implicit in his being portrayed on a U.S. postage stamp ranks as an unparalleled honor," his sister Janie said at the time.

02 of 10

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks Stamp

During the NAACP Image Awards in February 2013, civil rights activist Parks' stamp was unveiled. It went on sale on what would've been her 100th birthday, Feb. 4.

Parks' stamp was part of the USPS' 2013 civil rights set, which included an ode to the Emancipation Proclamation, and another stamp recognizing the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

03 of 10

Ray Charles

Ray Charles Stamp

Charles was the third person to be honored in the USPS' Music Icons series in 2013, and even had a deluxe CD collection released at various post offices along with his stamp.

The image selected was a photo taken by Yves Carrère later in the singer's career.

Charles' stamp was celebrated with two concerts: one by Ashanti at the Ray Charles Performing Arts Center at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and another by Chaka Khan at The GRAMMY Museum at L.A. LIVE.

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Dorothy Height

Dorothy Height Stamp

The USPS marked Black History Month 2017 with a stamp for Height, one of the 20th Century's most influential voices in the fight for both civil and women's rights.

The Richmond native — who served on President John F. Kennedy's Commission on the Status of Women — received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton, and the Congressional Gold Medal from President George W. Bush.

Congressman John Lewis was among the luminaries on hand to dedicate her stamp when it was unveiled at Howard University.

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Miles Davis

Miles Davis Stamp

Jazz icon Davis' 2012 stamp was released at the same time as one honoring French singer Edith Piaf, marking a collaboration with the French postal service, La Poste. Unlike many stamps celebrating individuals, these featured the musicians' full bodies, not just their faces.

Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamps using black-and-white photos of his subjects, Davis' taken in 1970 by David Gahr.

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Ella Fitzgerald

Ella Fitzgerald Stamp

The 30th stamp in the USPS' Black Heritage series featured the "first lady of song," Grammy winner Fitzgerald, and was issued in January 2007.

The stamp was illustrated by Paul Davis, and per the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, based on a 1956 photograph of the star.

07 of 10

Althea Gibson

Althea Gibson stamp

Billie Jean King was among the tennis stars who celebrated Gibson's stamp when it was dedicated in 2013.

"Her achievements served as a catalyst for equality in sports and in life and I am honored to participate in this historic event," King said at the time.

Gibson was the first Black tennis player to win a Grand Slam tournament, and at one point was the No. 1 player in the world.

Her stamp, designed by Derry Noyes, is based on a photo taken of her at Wimbledon that inspired a painting by Kadir Nelson.

08 of 10

Barbara Jordan

Barbara Jordan Stamp

The groundbreaking Texas politician was the 34th honoree in the USPS' Black Heritage stamp series, in 2011.

Her stamp was based on an oil painting by artist Albert Slark, who based his work on a black-and-white photograph of Jordan.

Jordan was the first Black woman elected to the Texas legislature, and first Black woman from the south elected to Congress. She again made history in 1976 when she gave a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention, making her the first woman to do so.

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August Wilson

August Wilson Stamp

Playwright Wilson's stamp came out in January 2021, weeks after his the critically acclaimed film version of his play Ma Rainey's Black Bottom was released on Netflix.

His stamp, also designed by Ethel Kessler, was based on an oil painting of the Pulitzer Prize winner with a picket fence behind him, a nod to his work Fences.

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Gwen Ifill

USPS black icons stamps gwen ifill contact: felicia.m.lott@usps.gov

Ifill — the first Black female journalist to moderate a vice-presidential debate — scored a stamp in honor of Black History Month in 2020.

"The Ifill family is thrilled that our sister, cousin and aunt has received this signal tribute to her legacy as a truth-teller, pioneer and exemplar," said her brother Bert Ifill. "As a reporter and moderator, Gwen was dedicated to two principles: getting the story right and getting the right stories out. As a mentor, supportive friend and family member, she was determined, not only to open doors for those of us previously locked out of opportunity, but also to provide floor plans to help us find our way through. She is forever in our hearts, and we are forever in her debt."

Her stamp dedication ceremony was held at her church, the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.

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