The first U.S. stamp to depict an African-American, the 10-cent Famous American Educators issue features Booker T. Washington (1856-1915). The stamp was released on April 7, 1940.
Born a slave, Washington was mentored in the years following the Civil War by sympathetic and influential whites. He pursued his education earnestly, adopting his mentors' beliefs that education of freed slaves was the key to adjustment to free society. When in 1888 the state of Alabama established the Tuskegee Negro Normal Institute, Washington was appointed principal. By following conservative educational policies and stressing practical, job-related skills, he attracted significant funding from wealthy whites and built the school into an esteemed institution.