This month, the United States Postal Service celebrates the life and legacy of author Toni Morrison (1931-2019), whose artfully crafted novels explored the diverse voices of African Americans, in a first-day-of-issue ceremony at Princeton University.
“One of the goals of our stamp program is to raise awareness and celebrate the people who represent the very best of our nation”, said Pritha Mehra, USPS chief information officer, and executive vice president, who served as the dedicated official. “It’s a privilege to represent the 650,000 men and women of the Postal Service, as we honor Toni Morrison with one more tribute—our new stamp that will be seen by millions and forever remind us of the power of her words and the ideas she brought to the world.”
Joining Mehra for the ceremony were Chris Eisgruber, president of Princeton University; Carla Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress; Gene Jarrett, faculty dean at Princeton; Ruha Benjamin, professor of African American Studies at Princeton; and photographer Deborah Feingold, whose portrait of Morrison appears on the stamp.
Michael Cadden, the university lecturer at Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts, was the master of ceremonies.
“It was a privilege to photograph Ms Morrison, an amazing author who contributed so much to the world through her works”, said Feingold. “However, it is an absolute honor to know that the same photograph capturing a moment in time is now the subject of a Forever stamp. I am delighted that my photograph was used as a source to design the stamp and to participate in today’s unveiling and celebration.”
A letter of tribute from former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama was read and a video tribute from Oprah Winfrey was played during the ceremony.
The stamp features Feingold’s photograph of Toni Morrison against a bright yellow background. Ethel Kessler, a USPS art director, designed the stamp.