Our last Black Heritage series article brought us up to the year 2019. Now we’ve reached 2023 and the 46th stamp in the series issued by America’s United States Postal Service. So we begin with 2020’s stamp that featured Gwen Ifill (1955-2016), an American journalist, television newscaster, and author. In 1999, she became the first African-American woman to host a nationally televised U.S. public affairs programme, “Washington Week in Review”.
August Wilson (1945-2005) was an American playwright. He has been referred to as the “theatre’s poet of Black America”. He is best known for a series of ten plays, collectively called The Pittsburgh Cycle, which chronicle the experiences and heritage of the African-American community in the 20th century. He won Pulitzer Prizes for two of the Pittsburgh Cycle plays – “Fences” and “The Piano lesson”.
Edmonia Lewis (1844-1907) was the first African-American and Native American sculptor to achieve national and then international prominence. Her work is known for incorporating themes relating to Black people and indigenous peoples of the Americas into Neoclassical-style sculpture.
So we arrive at 2023’s stamp that commemorates Ernest James Gaines (1933–2019), an American author whose works have been translated into many languages, including Chinese, Spanish, German, Russian and French. Four of his works were made into television films. Gaines’ eighth novel “A Lesson Before Dying”, published in 1993, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and won America’s National Book Critics Circle Award. The novel is based on the true story of Willie Francis, a young Black American man best known for surviving a failed electrocution in the state of Louisiana in 1946.