Robert Robinson Taylor, often recognized as the first African-American graduate of the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was honored by the U.S. Postal Service, becoming the 38th honoree in its Black Heritage Stamp series.
The first-day-of-issuance ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., overlapped with the museum’s exhibit “Freedom Around the Corner: Black America From the Civil War to Civil Rights,” a press release notes. White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, who is also Taylor’s great-granddaughter, joined Postmaster Gen. Megan Brennan for the ceremony.
“Any time 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, N.C., to attend MIT in 1882,” Jarrett said, according to the release. “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. 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 [consciousness] of future generations.”
“Robert Robinson Taylor expanded opportunities for African Americans in fields that had largely been closed to them,” Brennan, who earned her MBA from MIT, added. “Booker T. Washington recruited Taylor to the Tuskegee Institute to help show the world what an all-black institution could accomplish. Taylor designed and oversaw the construction of dozens of new buildings built in an elegant, dignified style that befitted his personality. But it was Tuskegee’s chapel that Taylor considered to be his finest achievement and masterpiece. Washington referred to the graceful, round-arch structure as the ‘most imposing building’ at Tuskegee. As one of our nation’s calling cards, we hope this stamp will encourage more Americans to learn more about Robert Robinson Taylor’s life and career.”