Sunday, September 6, 2015
Civil Rights in Stamps
When: through February 15, 2016
If you think you've seen every possible presentation of the history of African-Americans in the United States, think again. This exhibit tells the story of Black America with stamps and other pieces of postal memorabilia. From the use of slaves to deliver messages, to the Black Heritage Stamp series, this show, easily managed in a lunch hour, gives you a new perspective on the odyssey that Americans of African descent have taken in the years that they have lived in the United States.
Exhibits include mail carried by slave messengers from one plantation to another, communications dating from the time of the Civil War and mail from the Civil Right era. African-Americans honored on stamps include Booker T. Washington (whose stamp is pictured here), Marion Anderson (whose stamp is a lovely portrait) and W.E.B. DuBois (whose stamp features a double portrait), and their stamps, along with many others are on display.
Not shying away from the ugly aspects of history, a case with Ku Klux Klan materials is also part of the exhibit, including a hood and mask. It was disturbing to see, and I realized I'd been very fortunate never to have seen one before. My hope is never to see one again.
Verdict: A nicely done show, that probably won't get as much traffic as it deserves, tucked away off the Mall.