15¢ Martin Luther King, Jr. Approved Stamp Art by Jerry Pinkney, c. 1979
Loan from the USPS, Postmaster General's Collection to the Smithsonian Institute’s Postal Museum
JACKSONVILLE, FL — The Postal Service observes the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday on Monday, January 15, 2018. Post Offices are closed and there is limited delivery of some package products, including Priority Mail Express. All Post Offices will reopen with regular mail delivery, collections, and retail services after the holiday on January 16.
FUN FACT: How many times has Martin Luther King been featured on US postage?
A: In 2005, the 10-stamp series “To Form A More Perfect Union” highlighted such events as the 1963 March on Washington and 1965 Selma March. The sheet featured Dr. King’s picture in the center, as part of the selvage, but his image was not actual postage.
A 1999 stamp, then 33 cents, highlighted Dr. King as he presented “I Have A Dream” speech as part of the Celebrate the Century series of stamps featuring landmark events of the 1960s.
On January 13, 1979, Dr. King was honored on the second in the Black Heritage Series of stamps issued by the Postal Service. That stamp was 15 cents. Illustrator Jerry Pinkney’s designs for the first Black Heritage stamps set the tone for the series and were emulated by later illustrators Thomas Blackshear II and Higgins Bond.
On January 30, the U.S. Postal Service will honor legendary performer and civil rights activist Lena Horne on the 41st stamp in the Black Heritage stamp series.
Lena Horne was a trailblazer in Hollywood for women of color and used her fame as an entertainer to become an important civil rights spokesperson.
The stamp art features a photograph of Lena Horne taken by Christian Steiner in the 1980s. Kristen Monthei colorized the original black-and-white photo, adding a background reminiscent of Horne’s Stormy Weather album, with a few clouds to add texture and subtly make the album reference.
“Lena Horne” is written along the bottom of the stamp, with “Black Heritage,” the stamp series title, at the top. “USA” and “Forever” appear on the lower right-hand side above Horne’s name. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp.
Her new stamp becomes available at post offices on January 30.
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