With a nod to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s, the U.S. Postal Service on 21st May 2020 issued new postage stamps honoring the lives and legacies of four of the movement's greatest voices: novelist Nella Larsen- writer, philosopher, educator, and arts advocate; Alain Locke- bibliophile and historian; Arturo Alfonso Schomburg; and poet Anne Spencer.
The stamps feature stylized pastel portraits of the four honorees, based on historic photographs. Each stamp incorporates African-inspired motifs as background elements. The design elements reflect the increased interest in African culture, history, and aesthetics shown by the writers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance. The artist for these stamps was Gary Kelley, and art director Greg Breeding designed them.
In two novels, Nella Larsen (1891-1964) explored the complex experiences of mixed-race people and questions of identity and belonging. Now considered one of the most important novelists of the Harlem Renaissance, Larsen challenged conventional thinking, and her work continues to invite interpretations from previously neglected points of view.
Writer, philosopher, educator, and arts advocate Alain Locke (1885-1954) was a vital intellectual figure of the Harlem Renaissance. Locke wrote and edited some of the most significant publications of the movement, and he played a leading role in supporting and promoting writers and artists.
An ardent bibliophile and self-taught historian, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (1874-1938) demonstrated the worldwide contributions of people of African descent. By tirelessly collecting books, documents, artwork, and other materials, Schomburg rescued black history from obscurity and preserved priceless cultural knowledge for future generations.
Known for unconventional imagery that evokes nature, gardening, religion, and myth, poet Anne Spencer (1882-1975) provided a haven for African American writers and intellectuals in her Virginia garden and home, a reminder that the artistic and cultural life of the Harlem Renaissance extended far beyond New York City.
Image Courtesy: about.usps.com