Russell Simmons On A Postage Stamp? Yep, And More Folks, Too…

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Russell Simmons stampNoting the increasing rise in electronic bill payment and communications, the U.S. Postal Service is continuing with plans to end next-day services and sought approval to eliminate 28,000 jobs,  Reuters reports.

Still, the nation’s second largest employer is rolling out commemorative stamps for the nostalgic and collectors including a new Kwanzaa stamp, and a series of “Vegetarian Icons” in an approved licensed vendor partnership with Stamps.com and PETA that features Russell Simmons.

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Throughout the years African Americans have been represented on more than 60 postage stamps, decorating envelopes with the visages of cultural game changers like Booker T. Washington — the first to receive such an honor — Thelonious Monk, and Harriet Tubman.

Following are five other stamps available via USPS.com for your holiday greetings.

1. Oscar Micheaux was a pioneering filmmaker, who overcame racial roadblocks in the first half of the 20th century to write, produce, direct, and distribute more than 44 films, both silent movies and “talkies,” that explored race relations of his time. The stamp is based on one of the few surviving photographs of Micheaux.

2. Anna Julia Cooper was an author, educator, speaker, and the fourth African American woman to ever earn a doctoral degree. In addition to her portrait being on a stamp, her words have been memorialized in U.S. Passports: “The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class – it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity.” The stamp is of a portrait based on an undated photograph.

3. Romare Bearden was a writer and artist, who was praised for his renderings of African American life into oil paintings, cartoons, and collages. In addition to his scholarly work, he wrote song lyrics and designed album covers. In 1987, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. One of his murals, painted in the Gateway Center subway station in Pittsburgh was once appraised at more than $15 million. Four of his collages, “Conjunction,” “Odysseus,” “Prevalence of Ritual,” and “Falling Star,” are included in the USPS “Forever” collection with a photo of him cropped to fit in the selvage.

4. Barbara Charline Jordan became the first African American elected to the Texas Senate since 1883 when she won her campaign in 1966. She was the also the first Southern African American woman elected to the U.S. Congress, and later the first African American woman elected to Texas legislature, and first woman and first African American to deliver a keynote address to the Democratic National Convention. Throughout her career she advocated for equal rights to all Americans, and in 1994 was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The stamp is a portrait of Jordan based on an undated photograph.

5. Negro Leagues Baseball was a collective of professional baseball teams with predominantly African American players. In 1920, the “father of Black Baseball,” Andrew Foster, founded the Negro National League, which became the first successful league of African American teams. The  NNL operated until 1960. The first professional African American baseball team was the Cuban Giants, a group of porters and waiters from the Argyle Hotel in Babylon, NY, formed in 1885. The stamp is a scene painted by award-winning artist Kadir Nelson.

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