The Black Heritage Series of Stamps

Many people use email and other forms of communicating today rather than letter writing. Although quick, easy and more economical, I think we have lost the personal touch in so doing. However, stamps remain an interesting study for me as they highlight and celebrate important events and people who have made some accomplishment that is noteworthy.

The Black Heritage Stamp Series was created to memorialize people of colour who have done just that. First introduced in the United States in 1974, it became and remains to this day as their longest running series. Canada followed suit by introducing The Black Heritage series in 2009. Both Canada and the United States celebrate Black History Month in February.

Although both series have interesting stories to be told about the individuals and events for which a stamp was issued, however, being a Canadian, I will concentrate on the stamps in the Canadian series.

Originally, the focus of this series was the contribution made by various Black Canadians. However, more recently, other subjects such as specific locations of interest have been chosen. For example, Hogan’s Alley. Situated in Vancouver, close to modern Chinatown, Hogan’s Alley consists of a four-block dirt lane and is culturally significant because of its food, music and nightlife. If you want to hear the blues or Jazz, this is the place to go.

Africville, a concentrated community of people of colour which was located in Halifax has a unique and sometimes controversial history which is part of the Canadian story.

For those of you who live in Ontario, you will be familiar with and probably have driven on the Lincoln Alexander Parkway, so named after the first Black Lieutenant Governor of Canada.

As for other individuals honoured, the list consists of men and women of colour who have represented different walks of life: musicians, politicians, athletes, journalists, abolitionists, reformers, even an actor, race car driver and most recently (Jan. 25/19) a black mail carrier by the name of Albert Jackson.

I have already told the story of Josiah Henson, an abolitionist and 19th-century social reformer in a previous blog and will continue telling the story of each individual who has had a stamp issued in his/her honour.

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