1998 32¢ Josh White
Issue Date: March 19, 1998
City: New York, NY
Printed By: Banknote Corporation of America
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: Die Cut 11.3
One of six children born to a poor preacher and his wife in Greenville, South Carolina, Joshua Daniel White (1915-1969) witnessed the fatal beating of his father when he was seven years old. Two months later, he went on the road with singer Blind Man Arnold. For the next nine years, he would act as “lead boy” for Arnold and dozens of other blind street singers, playing tambourine and guitar, plus singing and dancing in street shows.
In 1931, Josh moved to New York City to record for ARC Records. He also earned money as a prize fighter. His string of gospel hits began in 1932, soon followed by blues hits he recorded under the name Pinewood Tom.
In 1936, Josh lost the use of his right hand in a fight. Regaining the use of the hand two years later, he soon was starring on Broadway, in films, and major nightclubs. In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt heard Josh’s protest records and invited him to become the first black artist to give a White House Command Performance.
While on a goodwill tour of Europe in 1950 with U.N. Ambassador Eleanor Roosevelt, Josh was blacklisted in America as a communist, and barred from working here. Eventually returning, he would appear on television with President John F. Kennedy in 1963, and perform at Lyndon Baines Johnson’s inauguration in 1965.