The USPS Black Heritage stamp series issue for 2010 featured Oscar Micheaux. He was an author, film director, screenwriter, and producer who between 1919 and 1948 wrote, produced, directed, and distributed more than 45 films for African-American audiences. He would hire black writers and actors for his films so that he could more accurately dramatise and project his black audience’s lives onto the big screen. Micheaux received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Oscar Micheaux Award was created by the Producers Guild of America to honour people who overcome difficulties and go on to accomplish great things in the film and television industry.
The first African-American woman to be elected to the Texas legislature was lawyer and educator Barbara Jordan (1936-1996). She was featured on the 2011 stamp. She was prominent in supporting many key pieces of legislation extending the federal protection of civil rights. Jordan also became the first woman and first African-American to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 1976. She was named as one of the most influential American women in the twentieth century by America’s National Women’s Hall of Fame. Among Jordan’s many awards and honours is the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The 2012 Black Heritage stamp featured the first African-American to attain major success in the field of publishing, John H. Johnson (1918-2005). He was possibly the greatest minority entrepreneur in American history. Johnson’s business empire included magazines, radio stations, cosmetics, and more. His published magazines showcased African-American accomplishments. He was awarded the Spingarn Medal in 1966, was named publisher of the year, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1996. Johnson also served as a Special U.S. Ambassador for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson.
Althea Gibson (1927-2003) was featured on the 2013 stamp. A pioneering American tennis player, she dominated women’s competition in the late 1950s. Althea Gibson was the first black player to win the French, Wimbledon, and U.S.A. Open singles championships. She was tall, muscular and very fast around the court. With her long reach, hard service and great agility she was a formidable opponent. She became an inspiration for future generations of African-American players. Gibson helped integrate her sport at the height of the civil rights movement. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame and continued to work in athletics after her retirement.