The Postal Service will observe African American History Month in February.
USPS traditionally commemorates the month by releasing the latest stamp in its Black Heritage series. This year’s honoree — the 46th in the series — is author Ernest J. Gaines, who explored the lives of African Americans in the post-Civil War and Jim Crow South in such modern classics as “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” and “A Lesson Before Dying.”
Although not part of the Black Heritage series, two other prominent African Americans will also be honored with stamps this year: novelist Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature, and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights leader.
The seed for African American History Month was planted in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson, an early-20th-century historian who fought for recognition of the contributions of Black Americans to the nation. That year, he helped launch an observance in the second week of February timed to coincide with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass (Feb. 14) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12).
In 1976, 50 years after the original event, President Gerald R. Ford officially declared February Black History Month and urged citizens “to seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”
The group Woodson helped found, now called the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, chooses a theme for the observance each year; for 2023, it’s “Black Resistance.” The association will hold a virtual festival exploring the topic in depth.
More information on African American History Month — as well as related exhibits and events at the Library of Congress, Smithsonian and more — can be found at BlackHistoryMonth.gov.