The US Postal Service has added Robert R. Taylor, the U.S.’s first academically trained African American architect, to their Black Heritage Stamp series.
In a ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum last week, Taylor’s great-granddaughter, White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, dedicated the stamp with Postmaster General Megan Brennan.
As related in historian Ellen Weiss’s book “Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee” (NewSouth Books), Taylor received an architectural degree at MIT, and was then recruited by Booker T. Washington to teach and help design the buildings of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute (later Tuskegee University).
Taylor’s buildings were seen, in defiance of strengthening Jim Crow laws, as a public expression of racial pride and progress. Weiss’s lush hardcover book recounts Taylor’s life and accomplishments alongside over 100 photographs, including a full pictorial catalog of Taylor’s work at Tuskegee University.
“Robert R. Taylor and Tuskegee” received the Award of Excellence from the Society of Architectural Historians.
“Anytime I face a daunting challenge and self-doubt creeps in, I think of my great grandfather, Robert Taylor, the son of a slave, who traveled from Wilmington, NC to attend M.I.T. in 1882,” Valerie Jarrett said.
“He believed that with a good education, hard work, relentless determination and a dedication to family, there were no limits to what he could accomplish,” she said. “The example he set gives me strength and courage. My family is proud to stand on his shoulders and we know that it is our responsibility to embrace his values, to ensure that his legacy will be ‘forever stamped’ in the conscious of future generations.”