WSSU Event to Honor Three African-American Legends of American History on Feb. 6 in Diggs Gallery, North Carolina's Romare Bearden is Among Those being Honored

February 1, 2012
  Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) will join the U.S. Postal Service to formally dedicate commemorative postage stamps honoring three legends of American history and culture, one of whom is a North Carolina native, on Feb. 6, at 5 p.m. in Diggs Gallery on the campus of WSSU. This event is free and open to the public.
    John H. Johnson, the trailblazing publisher of Ebony, Jet and other magazines, and Barbara Jordan, one of America’s most respected and influential politicians during her many years in U.S. Congress in the late 20th century, are the most recent subjects in the Postal Service’s popular Black Heritage Stamp series. The third stamp subject is Romare Bearden, a North Carolina native and one of America’s most prolific artists.
     “We are proud to have the opportunity to pay homage to three people who became some of our country’s most distinguished, important and inventive voices in our history,” said Dr. Trae Cotton, WSSU vice chancellor for student affairs. “Recognizing cultural, historical and artistic brilliance on stamps has become a tradition here at WSSU and an important way to showcase our heroes to a new generation.”
    All stamps being dedicated are issued as Forever stamps, which are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate. Bearden’s artwork is depicted on a set of four Forever stamps.
    “Honoring these national icons on stamps means that the legacies they created can be strengthened by the awareness these stamps create when traveling throughout the postal system,” said Toni W. Gorman, Postmaster, Winston-Salem and the dedicating official.
    Johnson overcame poverty and racism to build a business empire embracing magazines, radio stations, cosmetics, and more. His magazines portrayed black people positively at a time when such representation was rare, and played an important role in the civil rights movement.
    Jordan was the first African-American woman elected to the Texas legislature. She also was the first African-American elected to the Texas State Senate since 1883, and the first African-American woman elected from the South to the U.S. Congress, where she served three terms, sponsoring and supporting numerous pieces of legislation extending federal protection of civil rights.
    Bearden is celebrated for his groundbreaking approach to collage along with his work in watercolors, oils, and other media. Among Bearden’s early paintings were figural works recalling his childhood roots in the South, done in gouache on brown paper. Music, in particular jazz and the blues, was a strong influence on Bearden’s art. Three Bearden originals are part of the WSSU Collection.  They will be on display at the event.
    The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations. For more information, call 336-337-7628.
    The stamps are now available at Post Offices nationwide and online at These stamps, as well as related collectible items, will be available for purchase at this event, which is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, call (336) 668-1257.

About the U.S. Postal Service
An independent federal agency, the U.S. Postal Service is the only delivery service that visits every address in the nation – 146 million homes and businesses. It has 37,000 retail locations and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to pay for operating expenses, not tax dollars. The Postal Service has annual revenues of $75 billion and delivers nearly half the world’s mail.

About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University, a constituent institution of the University of North Carolina, is a public university founded in 1892 in Winston-Salem, NC.  WSSU is a historically black university that today is a recognized regional institution offering baccalaureate and graduate programs to a diverse student population. U.S. News and World Report has ranked the university among Top Public Comprehensive Colleges in the South—Bachelor’s category—for nearly 10 consecutive years (2001-2009).  WSSU currently offers more than 40 baccalaureate and 10 master's degree programs to a student population of approximately 6,400. For more information, please call (336) 750-3152, or visit the WSSU website at

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