First African American Architect, Robert Robinson Taylor, Honored with Postage Stamp

Robert Robinson Taylor
Robert Robinson Taylor

by Maria Adebola
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper

The United States Postal Service continued its annual recognition of Black excellence by honoring the first academically-trained Black architect, Robert Robinson Taylor, with the 38th Black Heritage stamp on Feb. 12.

Since 1978, the Postal Service has celebrated the progress and impact of African Americans by highlighting their achievements and contributions to the American History with its Black Heritage stamp. The Black Heritage stamp features an African American man or woman who had made a significant impact to the American history.

Taylor was born in 1868 in Wilmington, N.C. to a middle class family, according to the news website People’s World. His father, Henry, was the son of a White Slave owner and a Black mother, and worked as a carpenter.

Taylor worked for his father as a construction foreman before entering MIT’s School of architecture in 1888. After graduating, Taylor worked as an architect and educator at the Tuskegee Institute, founded by Booker T. Washington. There, Taylor worked closely with Washington and was charged with designing most of the university’s campus until his retirement in 1935.

Taylor died in 1942 at age 74 after collapsing while attending services at the Tuskegee Butler Chapel.

Taylor is the great grandfather of Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor to President Barack Obama. According to Jarrett, Taylor believed that with good education, hard work, determination and dedication to family, there is no limits as to what can be accomplished.

“The example he set gives me strength and courage,” Jarrett said, during the induction ceremony of the stamp at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. “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.”

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