Black History Month
Lena Horne graces new Black History Month stamp

Last updated on February 9th, 2018 at 11:14 am

The U.S. Postal Service celebrates the life and legacy of Lena Horne as the 41st honoree in the Black Heritage stamp series. The stamp art features a photograph of Lena Horne taken by Christian Steiner in the 1980s. Kristen Monthei colorized the original black-and-white photo using a royal blue for the dress, a color Horne frequently wore. Monthei also added a background reminiscent of Horne’s Stormy Weather album, with a few clouds to add texture and to subtly evoke the album title. Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp.

Share the news of the stamp using the hashtags #LenaHorneForever and #BlackHeritageStamps.

“Today, we honor the 70-year career of a true American legend,” said Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman, who dedicated the stamp during a first-day-of-issue ceremony at Peter Norton Symphony Space. “With this Forever stamp, the Postal Service celebrates a woman who used her platform as a renowned entertainer to become a prolific voice for civil rights advancement and gender equality.” Joining Stroman to unveil the stamp were Horne’s daughter Gail Lumet Buckley, a well-known author in her own right; Christian Steiner, photographer; and Amy Niles, president and chief executive officer, WBGO Radio.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 30, 1917, Lena Mary Calhoun Horne was a trailblazer in Hollywood for women of color and used her fame to inspire Americans as a dedicated activist for civil rights. Horne began her career as a dancer at Harlem’s Cotton Club and later became a featured vocalist with touring orchestras. The rampant racial discrimination she encountered from audiences, hotel and venue managers and others was so disconcerting that she stopped touring.

In 1941, she made her move to Hollywood. A year later, she signed a contract with MGM — one of the first long-term contracts with a major Hollywood studio — with the stipulation that she would never be asked to take stereotypical roles then available to black actors. Her most famous movie roles were Georgia Brown in Cabin in the Sky and Selina Rogers in the all-black musical Stormy Weather, both released in 1943. During World War II, Horne entertained at camps for black servicemen, and after the war worked on behalf of Japanese Americans who were facing discriminatory housing policies. She worked with Eleanor Roosevelt in pressing for anti-lynching legislation.

In the 1960s, Horne continued her high-profile work for civil rights, performing at rallies in the South, supporting the work of the National Council for Negro Women, and participating in the 1963 March on Washington. Horne’s awards and honors include a special Tony Award for her one-woman Broadway show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music; three Grammy Awards; the NAACP Spingarn Medal; and the Actors Equity Paul Robeson Award. She was a Kennedy Center Honors recipient in 1984, and her name is among those on the International Civil Rights Walk of Fame at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. Lena died on May 9, 2010, in Manhattan, New York City, NY.

You may purchase the Lena Horne Forever stamp now at Post Office facilities nationwide, at The Postal Store at the USPS website, and / or by calling 800-STAMP24
(800-782-6724). A variety of stamps and collectibles also are available on eBay. Customers have 60 days to obtain first-day-of-issue postmarks by mail. They may purchase new stamps at local Post Office facilities, at The Postal Store or by phone at 800-STAMP-24. They must affix the stamps to envelopes of their choice, address the envelopes to themselves or others and place them in envelopes addressed to: FDOI – Lena Horne Stamp; USPS Stamp Fulfillment Services; 8300 NE Underground Drive, Suite 300; Kansas City, MO 64144-9900. After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for postmarks up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, customers are charged 5 cents each. All orders must be postmarked by March 30, 2018.

The Postal Service also offers first-day covers for new stamps and stationery items postmarked with the official first-day-of-issue cancellation. Each item has an individual catalog number and is offered in the USA Philatelic Publication and online at the USPS website. Customers may register to receive a free USA Philatelic Publication online at the USPS website. Philatelic products for this stamp issue are as follows: 476906, Press Sheet with Die-cut, $60.00; 476910, Digital Color Postmark Keepsake, $11.95; 476916, First-Day Cover, $0.94; 476921, Digital Color Postmark, $1.65; 476924, Framed Art, $39.95; and 476930, Ceremony Program, $6.95.

Many of this year’s other stamps may be viewed on Facebook s or via Twitter. The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.