1997 Benjamin O. Davis, Sr. – Black Heritage
- 1st self-adhesive stamp in the Black Heritage Series
- 20th stamp in the Black Heritage Series
- Honors America’s 1st Black brigadier general, Benjamin O. Davis, Sr.
Black Heritage Series
32¢, First Class Mail Rate
First Day of Issue:
January 28, 1997
First Day City:
Banknote Corporation of America
Offset, Microprint (“USPS” on the left side of the stamp on the shoulder of Davis’s uniform)
Panes of 20 (Vertical 5 across, 4 down)
11.4 (die-cut simulated perforations – Innotech die cutter)
Why the stamp was issued:
To commemorate the accomplishments and contributions to history of Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis.
About the stamp design:
Based on a photograph from the National Archives. The original photo was taken by the US Army Signal Corps on August 8, 1944, with the caption: “U.S. GENERAL ON INSPECTION TOUR IN FRANCE. From an armored squad car near the American front in France, U.S. Brigadier General Benjamin O. Davis, of the Inspector General’s department in Washington, centers his attention on a U.S. Army Signal Corps crew erecting telephone poles in the battle zone.” The stamp was designed by Richard Sheaff.
Special design details:
The colors of the stamp are intended to symbolize the olive drab of Army uniforms.
First Day City:
The stamp was dedicated in Washington, DC, Davis’s birthplace. The First Day of Issue Ceremony was held at the Washington National Guard Armory, with the main speaker being Davis’s son, retired Air Force Lieutenant General Benjamin O. Davis Jr. Retired Army General Colin Powell (the first African-American to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) was also in attendance.
About the Black Heritage Series:
The Black Heritage Series began on February 1, 1978, with the issue of the 13¢ Harriet Tubman stamp (US #1744). Since then, the USPS has issued a new stamp in the series every year. A number of them have even been released in February in recognition of Black History month. As of 2023, it was the USPS’s longest-running stamp series of all time.
History the stamp represents:
The first Black brigadier general and a driving force in the eventual integration of the US armed forces, Benjamin Oliver Davis, Sr. became the 20th
American honored in the Black Heritage Series.
Born July 1, 1877, in Washington, DC, Davis devoted much of his life to a distinguished military career that spanned 50 years. Enlisting as a private in the military service on July 13, 1898, he rose through the ranks. In 1905, he received a promotion to first lieutenant and also began teaching as a professor of military science at Wilberforce University in Ohio. He later taught at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, as well. Davis was promoted to colonel in 1930 and went on to become the first Black soldier to achieve the rank of general in 1940.
During World War II, Davis served in the European theater. As an adviser on race relations, he championed the idea of an all-inclusive armed forces. On July 26, 1948, six days after Davis retired, President Truman issued the order ending racial discrimination in the military.
The stamp shows Davis at the height of his career, on an inspection tour of the American front in France in 1944. His son, Benjamin Oliver Davis, Jr., commander of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, went on to become the first Black three-star lieutenant general in the US armed forces.