TUSKEGEE, Ala. — The most prolific contributor to Tuskegee University’s structural design and the namesake of its architecture and construction school will honored with the launch of a new U.S. postage stamp. On Thursday, February 12, 2015, the United States Postal Service issued a limited edition of the Forever Stamp of Robert Robinson Taylor. The stamp is the 38th addition to the service’s Black Heritage series.
Taylor is believed to have been both the first black graduate of MIT and the country’s first academically trained black architect. The Taylor stamp was officially introduced during a ceremony in the atrium of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C. Tuskegee University president, Dr. Brian L. Johnson delivered remarks, along with Valerie Jarrett, Taylor’s great granddaughter and senior advisor to President Barack Obama; and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) president Rafael Reif. A celebration of the stamp’s launch is also planned at Tuskegee University for later this month.
Recruited by Tuskegee’s first president, Booker T. Washington, Taylor came to the university in 1892 and spent nearly his entire career teaching, developing the architecture and construction trade program, and designing more than 20 campus buildings until his death in 1942. He was also the architect of The Oaks, Washington’s home and modern day historic site. Many of his historic campus buildings still stand and are used today.
On the same day of the Washington, D.C. stamp launch, a second presentation was made in the Smithsonian National Postal Museum to help open its “Freedom Just Around the Corner” exhibit. Jarrett initiated the ribbon cutting. Tuskegee has also loaned several pieces to the gallery exhibit, which will run until February 6, 2016.
Daya Irene Taylor (no relation), interim dean of the Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science marvels at the significance of Taylor’s contributions to the university. She believes the stamp recognition will have a long-lasting impact.
“Acknowledging the contributions of black architects like Taylor is paramount to building the future generations of leaders in design and construction,” she said.