I'm typically a fan of all the movie-related stamps produced by the U.S. Postal Service, and I'm very glad to read the news that important early African American movie stars are being recognized and celebrated with a new series of 42-cent stamps (see them all here). However, I am a little disappointed that it carries on the usual exclusion of mostly forgotten non-musical race films, which are a significant part of both film history and African American history. Considering the stamps are tagged "Black Cinema USA," a number of people may assume this was the height of what African Americans were offered in the first half of the 20th century (Oscar Micheaux deserves a stamp).

Gripes aside, though, it is nonetheless a wonderful set. The five stamps feature vintage poster designs from old movies starring musical artists Josephine Baker (Princess Tam-Tam), Duke Ellington (Black and Tan) and Louis Jordan (Caldonia), plus King Vidor's monumental Oscar-nominated musical, Hallelujah! (it was one of the rare studio films featuring an all black cast) and the 1921 silent film The Sport of the Gods. In previous, separate years, Showboat costars Paul Robeson and Hattie McDaniel have also received their own postage stamps.

The new stamps come out Wednesday and there will be a ceremony on their behalf that day at the Newark Museum, which is currently holding the 34th annual Newark Black Film Festival. The festival is also holding free screenings of Hallelujah on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
categories Awards, Cinematical