Hattie McDaniel (2006) – McDaniel, the first Black woman to win an Academy Award for her supporting role in Gone With The Wind. While Gone With The Wind is the role she’s most famous for she actually participated in over 300 films but was only credited for 80.
In addition to the barrier she broke in her acting career, McDaniel was also the first Black woman to sing opera on the radio. To date, she is the only Black Oscar winner honored with a postage stamp.
Ella Fitzgerald (2007) – During Fitzgerald’s 59 year recording career, she sold over 40 million copies of the 70 plus albums she released. Fitzgerald, known for her horn-like tonal quality, won 13 Grammys, was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George H.W. Bush.
Ethel L. Payne – An internationally recognized writer and commentator, Ethel L. Payne was a syndicated columnist and long-time reporter for the Chicago Defender, one of the leading African-American newspapers in the United States. She was the first African-American woman to receive accreditation as a White House correspondent. In her honor, the prestigious annual Ethel L. Payne International Award for Excellence in Journalism was established in 1998. This stamp was issued September 14, 2002
Billie Holiday – Born Eleanora Fagan, Billie Holiday was one of the most influential jazz singers of all time. Known as “Lady Day,” she had a distinctive light timbre and graceful phrasing, even when singing popular jazz tunes dealing with heartbreak, despair, and loneliness. But whether the song was heavy and sorrowful or light and lively, Holiday’s presentation always seemed to carry a somber, wounded sadness and powerful emotional intensity. This stamp was issued September 17, 1994.
Mahalia Jackson – Known as the “queen of gospel music,” Mahalia Jackson started singing in church choirs as a young child. She began recording in her early twenties, and received national recognition by appearing at Carnegie Hall and on The Ed Sullivan Show. An active participant in the civil rights movement, she sang at the March on Washington in 1963 and at the funeral for Martin Luther King, Jr. This stamp was issued July 15, 1998.
“Ma” Rainey – Born Gertrude Malissa Nix Pridgett, “Ma” Rainey was called the “mother of the blues.” She specialized in a down-home style of classic blues, and her fame grew simultaneously with the spread of the blues genre. This stamp was issued September 17, 1994.
Sister Rosetta Tharpe – Sister Rosetta Tharpe was one of many Black gospel singers who contributed to American music. She was known for her signature guitar style, and she introduced gospel music into nightclubs as well as concert halls. This stamp was issued July 15, 1998.
Dinah Washington – Born Ruth Jones in 1924, Dinah Washington became one of America’s most popular and versatile singers. She began her career as a gospel singer, established herself as the “queen of the blues,” and also made recordings of jazz, pop, rhythm and blues, and even country songs. Her signature song was “What a Difference a Day Makes.” Unfortunately, her life was tragically cut short when she died after an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. This stamp was issued June 16, 1993.
Dorothy I. Height – Dorothy Height spent her life fighting for racial and gender equality. The 40th stamp in the Black Heritage series will honor the women’s rights icon in 2017. Height, Ph.D., 10th National President (1947-1956) of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., was appointed by President Carter to the Presidential Commission on a National Agenda for the 1980s. She also served as president of the National Council of Negro Women for more than 40 years