Part 10 in this series of articles begins in the year 1998 with a stamp commemorating Madam C.J. Walker (1867-1919). Madam C.J. Walker created hair-care and cosmetic products, particularly specialising in products for African-American hair. She developed a very successful door-to-door selling and mail-order business as white department stores would not sell her products.
By 1910 her company employed more than 3,000 workers. She travelled around America giving lecture-demonstrations and founded Madame C.J. Walker Laboratories to manufacture cosmetics and train sales beauticians. She was the first American woman to become a self-made millionaire. A great philanthropist, she gave generously to homes for the elderly, the NAACP, and the black YMCA.
The 1999 stamp in the Black Heritage series featured Malcolm X (1925-1965). At the age of 20, Malcolm X (then Malcolm Little) was sentenced to prison for armed robbery, where he entered into an intense programme of self-education and took the last name “X” to symbolise his stolen African identity. Soon after his release, he became a minister of the Nation of Islam (a nationalist religious movement loosely based on traditional Islamic teachings). He later became a follower of the Sunni Muslim sect and founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity. After a trip to Mecca, he changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and came to believe that all the people of the world could live in harmony. He was a prominent civil rights and human rights activist before his assassination in 1965.
Patricia Harris (1924-1985) was the subject in 2000. A lawyer and educator, she served in many positions as a public administrator. Harris was a co-chair of the National Women’s Committee for Civil Rights, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. She was the first African-American woman to serve as a director of a major U.S. corporation — IBM, the first African-American woman to serve in the United States Cabinet, and the first to enter the line of succession to the Presidency. She previously served as United States Ambassador to Luxembourg under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and was the first African-American woman to represent the United States as an ambassador.
Roy Wilkins (1901-1981) was featured on the 2001 Black Heritage stamp. He was a journalist and prominent civil rights activist in the United States from the 1930s to the 1970s, nicknamed Mr. Civil Rights because of his relentless work on behalf of racial equality and civil rights. He became a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) while attending college. After a brief spell at The Kansas City Call, an African-American weekly newspaper founded in 1919, he became the assistant executive secretary of the NAACP, and later served as the editor of its journal, the Crisis Magazine. In 1955 he was appointed as NAACP Executive Director. He served on the boards of many other organisations including the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Peace with Freedom, the Eleanor Roosevelt Foundation, and the Kennedy Memorial Library Foundation.