Friday, February 3rd (Introduction)
To recognize the month, the United States Postal Service began issuing stamps to honor African Americans who made long-lasting contributions to our country. The first U.S. stamp to honor an African American was the ten-cent Booker T. Washington stamp, issued in 1940. In 1978, the Postal Service initiated the Black Heritage stamp series, to recognize the achievements of individual African Americans. It is through this unique project that we will be exploring more about African-American individuals who have enriched our country through culture, entertainment, sports, government leadership, and the civil rights movement.
Located by the front office, you will find four posters depicting some of the stamps in this collection sorted into themes. We encourage you to visit these posters. On these posters you will have a chance to read more about some familiar names as well as learn about other notable African Americans for the first time.
Along with the posters, other stamps from this collection are scattered throughout the school for you to find. Take the time to explore more about these individuals and reflect on their contributions to our country. Your history teacher can answer questions you may have. We also encourage you to explore more on your own!
Friday, February 10th (social)
Today we continue our celebration of Black History Month by recognizing the social contributions of African Americans to our country. African American history originates in the ancient histories of complex African civilizations with rich cultures of their own. Many of these African social traditions have been incorporated and woven into today’s culture. For example, the beats in hip-hop music are linked to the polyrhythmic sounds in Central and West Africa and rap music is seen as a continuation of the oral folklore traditions shared by enslaved persons prior to the Civil War.
Beyond music, African Americans have had a long and lasting impact in literature and the arts, particularly the flourishing of Harlem Renaissance writers such as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston, and artists Jacob Lawrence, known for his Great Migration series, and William Johnson.
Achievements of African Americans in entertainment and sports are also highlighted by individuals such as Hattie McDaniel who was the first African-American actress to win an Oscar Award and Jackie Robinson who ‘broke the color barrier’ in sports.
To explore more about the individuals who made lasting contributions to American culture, be sure to check out the posters on culture, art, entertainment and sports located by the front office.
Today we leave you with a quote from American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou:
“Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise. I rise. I rise.”
Friday, February 17th (political)
Today we continue our celebration of Black History Month by recognizing the political contributions of African Americans to our country. Once denied the basic rights and responsibilities of citizenship within our country, African Americans’ political activism can be seen as far back as the Reconstruction Era immediately following the Civil War. Between 1869 and 1883, 16 African Americans served in the U.S. Congress, and almost 2,000 African Americans held public office at state and local levels. However, the early 1900s saw significant suppression and intimidation efforts to prevent Black Americans from holding public office and engaging with the political process through voting.
Throughout the Civil Rights period, African Americans fought for the basic rights afforded to them through the Constitution and saw an increase once again in voting numbers and Black Americans holding political office.
To explore other individuals who made lasting contributions to American politics, be sure to check out the poster on education, innovation, government and military by the front office.
Today we leave you with a quote from the first African American to be elected President of the United States, President Barack Obama:
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek.”
Thursday, February 24th (Civil Rights)
This Friday, we conclude our announcements for Black History Month by honoring the Civil Rights Movement and the individuals who fought for and advocated to advance the basic human rights of minorities in America.
Throughout American history, African Americans sought and fought for equal rights. In the 1950 and 60s, organized campaigns to end discrimination and southern segregation became known as the Civil Rights Movement. Advancing the work of activists such as Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois, Civil Rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, A. Philip Randolph, and Whitney Young protested unequal laws in events such as the Birmingham Bus Boycott, Freedom Rides, and the March on Washington. African-American attorneys, such as Constance Baker Motley, Thurgood Marshall, and Julius Chambers argued important Civil Rights cases.
Today we leave you with a challenge and an opportunity for civic engagement:
Who else do you propose should be added to the USPS stamp collection? Write a letter of proposal to the United States Postal Service and advocate for whom you think should be added and honored in the Black Heritage Stamp Series.