Heritage Highlights – Week of January 6, 2019

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2019! As we celebrate and look forward to the coming year here are some history making events that happened this week.  We will post some more through out this year.  Thanks for visiting.

1/6/1773 – Massachusetts slaves petition for freedom.

1/7/1923 – Roland Hayes acclaimed after Boston recital.

1/8/1811 – Slave revolt in New Orleans.

1/9/1866 – Fisk University founded, Nashville, TN

1/10/1866 – Georgia Equal Rights Association organized.

1/11/1770 – 462,000 slaves in the 13 colonies.

1/12/1952 – University of Tennessee admitted first Negro student.



Source: America’s Black Heritage Calendar

Hattie McDaniel Breast Cancer Awareness

We had an opportunity to join the ladies of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., Alpha Upsilon Sigma Chapter for their Bagels and Bras event bringing awareness to breast cancer.  We set up a display honoring Hattie McDaniel and gave a presentation. Here are a few pictures and the presentation.

Hattie McDaniel was born in Wichita, Kansas and she was the youngest of 13 children in a family of performers. She was an actress, singer-songwriter, and comedian for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first Academy Award won by an African-American Entertainer.  All of the film’s black actors, including McDaniel, were barred from attending the film’s premier in 1939 which was aired at the Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, GA.

When the Los Angeles Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. was founded in July 1939, actress Hattie McDaniel was one of its founding members.

Breast cancer claimed McDaniel’s life in 1952 at the age of 57.  Sigma Gamma Rho created the Hattie McDaniel Cancer Awareness and Health Program in her honor and memory. The mission of the program is to provide education and support of early detection of breast, prostate, ovarian, colon and other cancers as well as research for prevention of cancers.

The USPS issued a stamp in her honor on January 25, 2006 (Scott# 3996) and she is part of the Black Heritage Series – which is the longest running Commemorative Series that the post office has. 








American Alliance of Museums (AAM) article

We are very pleased to share this article published on the American Alliance of Museums blog. It’s entitled By Any Means Necessary: Digital, Virtual, and Travelling African American and Civil Rights Exhibitions and was written by Charlene Blair, NMAAS Director.


October 2018 Activities – Movie Viewing

October is National Stamp Collecting Month and National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As part of our Stamp Out Violence Initiative we are collecting new socks to donate to a local shelter.

Also, stamps are being collected to be used in a kids stamp art project. If you would like to donate, please send to NMAAS, P. O. Box 303, Edwardsville, IL 62025 

We are venturing out into more programming and will be hosting a Premiere Movie Viewing to support our goals of encouraging #CommunityConversations and #CommunityCaring. 

The Hate U Give is based on a children’s best seller and encourages reflections on ones actions and beliefs. (Image is subject to copyright)

To reserve a ticket by Eventbrite visit: Tickets

AAAM 2018 – 40th Conference – Hampton, VA – Summary and a few Pictures

It was such an honor to attend the 40th AAAM conference. To be surrounded by people that are so passionate and committed to keeping the legacies and histories of African Americans alive and well was so inspiring.  As a newbie, I had an opportunity to attend some very informative sessions and just listen to the wealth of knowledge that has been attained over the years.  I found the new developments in digital and virtual museums very interesting. Having a “Pop-up” exhibit where 75 people visit is just as necessary as institutions that have a physical space but have very few visitors all month. Finding ways to reach a broader audience is necessary.

Visiting Fort Monroe where the first Africans arrived and were enslaved was very moving and our tour guides really made the experience meaningful.  

The Frederick Douglass plate won in the silent auction will be a nice addition for a tribute to him.  The Hampton University Brass Band gave a rousing welcome to the campus.

It was a pleasure meeting a sorority sister, Dr Synatra Smith, from Prince George’s African American Museum and Jacqueline Dace who I met when we were both at the Missouri History Museum. She is now with the National Underground Railroad Museum in Cincinnati and on the AAAM Board of Directors.


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Events and Activities Coming Up – August and September 2018

In the month of August we will be celebrating our 1 year Anniversary at the 40th Anniversary Conference for the Association of African American Museums. One of the events will be hosted at the  Hampton University Museum that is celebrating 150 years. We are honored to be a traveling scholarship recipient and a social media ambassador.











We will have a Pop-Up Exhibit at a Back to School Bash hosted by Shon A’s Salon.  This salon received the 2018 business community service award from the local NAACP.










We are happy about the partnership that we have been forming with the HouseofMilesEStL.  We will be joining them for a Fellowship Sunday to introduce the services being offered by them and NMAAS.











We will be joining the Alton Black Expo with a booth to expose others to the hobby of stamp collecting and the African Americans featured. Some giveaways and other activities are being planned for our table – September 29.Visit their Eventbrite link for tickets. 












We have been invited to celebrate with the HouseofMilesEstL at their Kind of Blue Affair – September 25. Contact them for tickets to this event.

Miles Davis Festival – HouseofMilesEStL

We had a really nice time with Lauren Parks and the HouseofMilesEStL organizers at their Miles Davis Festival.  Mykael Ash is an awesome young artist that had several pieces on display in honor of Miles Davis. This painting was a great complement to our display.  To get more information about the House of Miles visit www.houseofmilesestl.org.  This is the childhood home of Miles Davis that has been renovated.


HouseofMilesEStL – Miles Davis

June 9 is the new date and we are ready with a special tribute exhibit/display to honor Miles Davis.

We will be celebrating the Miles Davis Festival at his childhood home with a display in his honor.  We are so proud to be a part of this event and will also exhibit other musicians on stamps. Read this article by the Alton Telegraph about the celebration.

Nonprofit renovated Miles Davis’ boyhood home for public, holding Miles Fest






















Teaching black history through stamp collecting

Sharing an article that we had the honor to be featured in:


Charlene Blair uses her stamp collection to teach black history at Laclede Elementary School in St. Louis.

Photo by: Elisa Tomich

 Teaching black history through stamp collecting

By Elisa Tomich, Wells Fargo Advisors communications consultant

Twenty-six years ago, Charlene Blair, a Wells Fargo executive assistant, stumbled upon a magazine article that intrigued her.

It featured the Black Heritage Collection, the longest running series of U.S. postage stamps, which has celebrated notable African Americans over the years such as Ella Fitzgerald, Thurgood Marshall, and James Baldwin.

Standing in a St. Louis elementary school classroom earlier this month, Charlene recounted how she immediately went to the Post Office to see if she could buy the 14 stamps that were part of the collection at the time. They were no longer available. So she turned to stamp dealers and collectors to find them, and quickly became a collector herself.

“All these individual stamps have a history to them,” Charlene told the students.

Much of Charlene’s stamp collection is arranged in frames, displayed on easels. It tells the stories of black history, one that she takes to public libraries, schools and social media. It tells stories of civil rights struggles, of inventors and scientists and cultural icons.

Harriet Tubman was the first black woman to be on U.S. stamp, in 1978.

“Is she the one who went back and got the other slaves?” one fifth grader asked. 

“Correct,” Charlene said. “And may one day be on the $20 bill.”

What’s on a stamp says a lot about what a nation values. For most of the 20th century, stamps featured the faces of white men. That slowly began to change in 1940, when Booker T. Washington became the first African American featured on a stamp.

Since then, U.S. postage stamps have featured more than 200 African Americans.

“Do you know who W.E.B DuBois is?” Charlene asked.  His stamp was issued in 1992.

One student knew that he was a social activist.  Another pointed out that he was the first African American to receive a PhD from Harvard University.

In 2017, Charlene began a non-profit organization, the National Museum of African Americans on Stamps, a traveling and virtual display that allows her to share her collection and the stories behind them.

Her favorite stamp is that of Marian Anderson, an opera singer who was denied permission to sing before an integrated audience in Philadelphia due to her skin color. Outraged, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt helped arrange an outdoor concert at the Lincoln Memorial, featuring Anderson. It drew an audience of 75,000. 

“Do you know what an ally is?” Charlene asked the students. “An ally is someone who may not be like you, but is on your side.”

Throughout February, Charlene will take her exhibit on the road, to a public library, a charter high school in Illinois, and a university black business expo, reaching as many as she can about the history-making men and women who appear in her stamp collection.

As the conversation wrapped up at the elementary school, Charlene pointed out that new collectors could start now. The Lena Horne stamp was issued in January.

“I’ll get it from the post office or order it online,” she said.

Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company.


MLK Bell Toll Commemoration

We had an opportunity to participate in the MLK50 Bell Toll by joining others at the Missouri History Museum.  We were featured on their Facebook Live feed and interviewed by a reporter, Nassim Benchaabane, from the St. Louis Post Dispatch.  He wrote: 

Charlene Blair, 55, stood listening to Nance’s words while holding a framed picture of the ceremonial U.S. Postal Stamp bearing King’s image, part of a collection she has of stamps of famous or accomplished African-Americans.

Blair was a kindergartner in East St. Louis when King was assassinated.

“As I grew older, I became more and more appreciative of the opportunities I had in my life because of Dr. King,” she said. “I wanted to show my appreciation for all that he’s done for us.”

Here is the full article: ‘Keep the Dream Alive‘: Bells toll in honor of MLK on 50th anniversary of his death

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