History and Background of the Charles W. Chesnutt Commemorative Stamp

By Zeigler, Mary B. | Studies in the Literary Imagination, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

History and Background of the Charles W. Chesnutt Commemorative Stamp


Zeigler, Mary B., Studies in the Literary Imagination


The United States Postal Service inducted Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932) into the Black Heritage Stamp Series on January 31, 2008, in Cleveland, Ohio. The USPS began issuing its popular Black Heritage stamp series in 1978 with a stamp honoring Harriet Tubman and has featured a new honoree each year since then. Chesnutt, who appears on a 41-cent commemorative stamp, is the thirty-first honoree. Under the direction of art director Howard Paine, stamp artist Kazuhiko Sano of Mill Valley, California, painted the portrait of Chesnutt based on a 1908 photograph from the special collections of Fisk University's Franklin Library.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

THE BLACK HERITAGE STAMP SERIES

1978: Harriet Tubman--abolitionist, humanitarian

1979: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.--civil rights activist, pastor

1980: Benjamin Banneker--inventor

1981: Whitney Moore Young, Jr.--director of National Urban League

1982: Jackie Robinson--baseball player

1983: Scott Joplin--composer and pianist

1984: Dr. Carter G. Woodson--historian

1985: Mary McLeod Bethune--educator, social activist

1986: Sojourner Truth--lecturer, activist

1987: Jean Baptiste DuSable--entrepreneur

1988: James Weldon Johnson--lawyer, educator

1989: A. Philip Randolph--civil rights spokesperson

1990: Ida B. Wells--educator, journalist

1991: Jan E. Matzeliger--inventor

1992: W. E. B. DuBois--scholar, civil rights leader

1993: Percy Lavon Julian--chemist

1994: Dr. Allison Davis--psychologist

1995: Bessie Coleman--aviator

1996: Ernest E. Just--marine biologist

1997: Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.--US Army general

1998: Madam C. J. Walker--entrepreneur

1999: Malcolm X--scholar, civil rights activist

2000: Patricia Roberts Harris--ambassador

2001: Roy Wilkins--NAACP leader

2002: Langston Hughes--novelist, poet

2003: Thurgood Marshall--Supreme Court Justice

2004: Paul Robeson--actor

2005: Marian Anderson--singer

2006: Hattie McDaniel--actress

2007: Ella Fitzgerald--jazz vocalist

2008: Charles W. Chesnutt--author

CHESNUTT BIOGRAPHY

Charles Waddell Chesnutt was born in Cleveland, Ohio on June 20, 1858, to Andrew Jackson Chesnutt and Ann Maria Simpson, both of whom were free blacks at the time of his birth. His parents had moved to Cleveland two years earlier from Fayetteville, North Carolina. In 1866, following the Civil War, his family returned to Fayetteville where his parents operated a grocery store. Charles attended a Freedmen's Bureau school at age eight and by age sixteen taught at a school for black children in Charlotte. Chesnutt served as the principal of the State Colored Normal School, located on the second floor of the Howard School, in Fayetteville from 1877-1883. …

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