Born a slave, abolitionist Harriet Tubman was the first African-American woman to be honored on a U.S. postage stamp. After escaping slavery in 1849, Tubman returned to the south many times to bring other slaves to freedom, including members of her own family. This dangerous work made her a conductor for the famed Underground Railroad, which helped many slaves escape to freedom before and during the Civil War. She served the Union Army during the Civil War as a scout and spy.
Sojourner Truth was one of the most inspirational and widely known African-Americans of the 19th century. She was born Isabella Bomefree (also spelled “Baumfree”) in 1797, a slave in New York, but received her freedom in 1828. In the 1830s, she became involved in evangelical movements, and in 1843 she changed her name to Sojourner Truth and began traveling and preaching. Her autobiography, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern Slave, was published in 1850, and her speeches against slavery and for women’s suffrage drew large crowds. In 1864, President Abraham Lincoln received her at the White House, and from 1864 to 1868 she worked with the National Freedmen’s Relief Association to advise former slaves as they started new lives.
It is fitting that an African-American artist, Georg Olden,
designed the stamp commemorating the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation. Olden was the first African American to design a U.S. postage stamp.