Martin Luther King Jr Remembered

I have lost count of the number of countries who have honored Martin Luther King (MLK) on their postage stamps. It is highly prestigious indeed to be honored on ones own country’s stamps but to be commemorated by so many other countries is monumental. His own country USA have commemorated him with more than one stamp issue but the nicest one is the recent "I Have a Dream" postage stamp shown at the bottom right of the image. This particular one (33 cent issue) was issued by the USPS in September of 1999 and shows Washington in the background. MLK has been previously commemorated as a part of the Black Heritage series of stamps from USPS. The MLK Black Heritage stamp is at the top left of the image and was issued as a 15-cent stamp in 1979.

American Heirloom Stamp Album

Martin Luther


Martin Luther King Commemorated on Postage Stamps

Why was Martin Luther King commemorated by so many stamp issuers?

Martin Luther King first came to prominence when he organized the Montgomery Bus Company strike, eventually forcing the company to allow black people the same rights to transport as everyone else. After a full year of walking to work (in protest against the transport company) by the folks who lived in Montgomery, the Supreme Court forced the Bus Company to accept integration. This meant that black folk did not have to give up their seats or sit at the rear of the bus like second class citizens.

Rosa Parks Forever RememberedCredit: Stamp issued by USPS 2013His ability to fight the good fight and win it against great odds was what made him a people’s champion. This was a mere drop in the ocean compared to what he later went on to achieve, but would have been enough for him to be featured on a stamp.

The lady at the center of the dispute has only been recognised in 2013 by the USPS. Her stamp, which is, in a way, complimentary to all the MLK ones is shown here. I, for one, am delighted that Rosa has been so honored by the US. She, like MLK spent her lifetime working for Human Rights and equality in the US.

Rosa Parks the seamstress who was an American hero

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Why was this iconic man worthy of inclusion on postage stamps?

Martin was a Nobel Peace Prize winner for all the work he done peacefully on behalf of the Civil Rights movement. Martin Luther never advocated the use of violence as a means to achieve his goals. King had a policy of not getting involved with any political party, candidate or politician, which left him free to pursue his ideals. Despite his non involvement, he was a huge political presence himself, and many who opposed his views and reforms became political also-rans.  King was an orator of exceptional talent and made a famous speech called "I Have a Dream" during a civil rights protest in Washington in late 1963. 

Words of the great man

Testament of Hope

I Have A Dream - Famous Speech on August 28, 1963

Famous MLK speech

How is Luther King Jr. Remembered?

He is best remembered by the fact that he made racial discrimination illegal and was one of the people responsible for bringing about the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The 'Celebration Day' falls on the third Monday in January each year to help us remember what he achieved in his lifetime. His speeches are oratory masterpieces especially "I Have a Dream" and his final speech “I Have Been to the Mountain Top” which raises hairs on the back of your neck when you listen to it. Best of all for philatelists, MLK is commemorated by several of the world’s top postage stamps issuers.

His Final Speech from the Mountaintop

MLK speech on the night before he died April 3 1968

Why did he die so young?


He became too powerful and was assassinated just 5 years following the death of another powerful man, JFK, who was also assassinated. John F Kennedy was another influential figure who was honored on postage stamps by several countries. They were both US born and were commemorated more than once on USPS stamps. Ironically, the status of both of these men became greater upon their deaths, and their respective influences are still with us nearly 50 years after they died. There are conspiracy theories surrounding both deaths and government involvement has never been ruled out in the case of MLK’s death. His group had been infiltrated by government agents but nothing amiss was ever reported. His influence continues today as evidenced by these multiple stamps issued depicting Martin Luther King.