It’s an honor awarded to a select few African-American icons. Now John H. Johnson, publisher of Jet and Ebony magazines, will be immortalized by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) with his own stamp. The late entrepreneur founded Johnson Publishing Company (JPC), which publishes EBONY and JET magazines. Johnson, who died in 2005, also owned Fashion Fair Cosmetics.
He will be featured on a 2012 Forever Stamp as part of the postal service’s Black Heritage stamp series. The stamp will not be available nationwide until next year. A preview, however, can be seen at www.beyondtheperf.com/2012-preview, at facebook.com/USPSStamps and on Twitter at @USPSstamps. The stamp will also be available to view at johnsonpublishing.com, ebony.com, and jetmag.com.
“We are honored that the USPS has chosen to recognize Mr. Johnson and the legacy of his work among such incredibly distinguished and influential leaders who have had so profound an impact on American society,” says JPC spokesperson Alex Rosenfield.
Started in 1978, the Black Heritage series honors African-Americans whose contributions to the Civil Rights movement as well as to politics, business, art, and culture have had a substantial and lasting impact on both the Black community and American culture. Past honorees have included Harriet Tubman; Martin Luther King; W.E.B. Du Bois; Langston Hughes; and Thurgood Marshall.
“The Black Heritage series is one of the longest running and most popular series in the stamp program. This is the 35th stamp in the Black Heritage series,” explains Layne D. Owens, who works in the stamp development department of the USPS.
Selection of the honorees is a special process, notes Owens. “The Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee recommended to the Postmaster General that Mr. Johnson be honored. Here is the link to the stamp selection process:
http://about.usps.com/who-we-are/leadership/stamp-advisory-committee.htm,” says Owens. “Each year, the Postal Service receives thousands of letters and even more petitions suggesting hundreds of different topics for new stamps. A limited number of stamp subjects (approximately 25-30) are chosen for each annual stamp program. The vast majority of suggestions submitted, including many meritorious and meaningful subjects, do not result in a stamp.”
The Johnson stamp will have a limited run and become collectibles. According to Owens, “The postal service will produce 80 million stamps, and they will be issued nationwide.”
Johnson was the first African-American listed by Forbes magazine in 1982 as one of the 400 wealthiest people in America. His empire included magazines, radio stations, cosmetics, and more. Johnson, through media coverage, also played an important role in the civil rights movement.