The First 5 African-Americans to be Featured on U.S. Stamps

Many wonder who were the first group of African-Americans to get their own stamp.

Paul Laurence Dunbar was awarded with a 10 cent stamp for his contributions to writing. While race relations were still hostile, at best, when he was given the stamp, his work was a small piece of common ground African-Americans and whites could find themselves. Paul Laurence Dunbar proved there’s nothing more powerful than the written word.

4. Frederick Douglass

Before becoming famous, Frederick Douglass was different. He was born a slave and when his master sold him to a relative, he was taught how to read which was against the law in the 1800s. After escaping to freedom in 1833, Douglass continued to self-educate himself. He went on to become one of the loudest voices in the abolition of slavery.

Douglass was commemorated on a 25 cent stamp in 1967. Due to the fact there were different developing technologies at the time the stamp was being produced, there are several different versions of his stamp. His stamp was issued as part of the Prominent American’s Series.

5. Archer Alexander

Archer Alexander is a slave who became the face of freed slaves when he was immortalized in the form of the Emancipation Statue in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park. Alexander was a slave who made it his life’s goal to have freedom for himself and family. Archer Alexander escaped from his Missouri plantation and found freedom in Illinois. While on the run, he avoided capture by warning Union soldiers of planned attacks Southern sympathizers were developing. Once slavery was legally outlawed in Missouri , Alexander was reunited with his wife and several of his ten children.

Archer Alexander’s likeness was placed on a stamp in 1940 to celebrate the anniversary of the 13th Amendment. It was important for Alexander’s picture to be featured on a stamp because he was the last slave to be captured under the Fugitive Slave Act.

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