New stamp honors Edmonia Lewis, US’ first African American, Native American sculptor

MADISON, Wis. — The U.S. Postal Service is saluting the nation’s first sculptor of African American and Native American descent with a Forever stamp.

The stamp honoring Edmonia Lewis is the newest addition to the Black Heritage Stamp Series.

Lewis was born in the late 1840s to Native American and Haitian parents. Despite her race and gender, she attended college, and by the age of 20, she was sculpting in clay, plaster and marble.

Her sculpture called “The Death of Cleopatra” for the 1876 American Centennial Celebration was hailed as the most impressive American sculpture at the event.

Norman Davis, the director of Madison’s Department of Civil Rights, said the honor is about remembering history that some may have forgotten.

“We want to make sure the history, as painful as it was, is not subverted,” he said. “Celebrating Black history is a year-long endeavor, and for many of us a lifelong endeavor.”

The stamps will be available on the postal service’s website and at local post offices.