Black architect Robert Robinson Taylor this month joined nearly 40 well-known African Americans who’ve been memorialized on postage stamps.
Taylor, the son of slaves, is believed to have been the first African American graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the country’s first academically trained black architect. He was inducted into the Postal Service’s Black Heritage Stamp series as the 38th honoree during Black History Month. It coincided with the opening of the museum’s “Freedom Around the Corner: Black America from the Civil War to Civil Rights” exhibit.
Other notable African Americans in the stamp series include underground railroad conductor Harriet Tubman (1978), civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1979), black historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson (1984), first black millionaire Madam C.J. Walker (1998), singer Ella Fitzgerald (2007) and the first black woman to run for president, Rep. Shirley Chisholm (2014).
Taylor, born June 6, 1868, in Wilmington, N.C., is the great-grandfather of White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Booker T. Washington recruited Taylor to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, where he arrived in 1892 and designed and oversaw the construction of dozens of buildings. Taylor also was over the school’s programs in industrial education and the building trades.
Taylor is credited with calm leadership and quiet dignity as he expanded opportunities for African Americans in fields that largely had been closed to them. He died in 1942.