2020 55¢ Voices of Harlem – Alain Locke
Value: 55¢ 1-ounce First-class rate (Forever)
Issue Date: May 21, 2020
First Day City: New York, NY
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America
Printing Method: Offset
Format: Pane of 20
Quantity Printed: 16,000,000
Alain Locke was born in Philadelphia on September 13, 1885, to two prominent members of the African American community. His father was the first African American employee of the United States Postal Service. His mother was a teacher, encouraging her son’s love for learning from a young age. Locke went on to study at Harvard University, becoming the first African American Rhodes Scholar.
Locke attempted to enroll at several colleges at Oxford Unviersity. He was denied by most due to his race, but was finally accepted into Hertford College. There, he studied literature, philosophy, Greek, and Latin before attending the University of Berlin.
Locke earned his PhD in philosophy from Harvard in 1918. He became chair of the philosophy department at Howard University, but was fired after teaching classes on race relations. He was later reinstated, and worked at the university until his retirement in 1953.
With his background in philosophy and language, it is no surprise that Locke became a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance. In fact, today, he is known as the “Dean” of the movement. Martin Luther King Jr. included him among the greats, saying, “We’re going to let our children know that the only philosophers that lived were not Plato and Aristotle, but W.E.B. Du Bois and Alain Locke came through the universe.”