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Voice for the oppressed

Ernest J. Gaines stamp dedicated

From left, author Wiley Cash, Lafayette City Court Judge Jules Edwards III, Louisiana Poet Laureate Mona Lisa Saloy, USPS Board of Governors Member Donald Lee Moak, Dianne Gaines, University of Louisiana at Lafayette President E. Joseph Savoie, Florida A&M University Assistant Professor Lillie Anne Brown and George Mason University Professor Keith Clark unveil the Ernest J. Gaines stamp.

The Postal Service celebrated the stamp release honoring author Ernest J. Gaines at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette on Jan. 23.

“Dr. Gaines brought worldwide attention to generations of men and women who asserted their human dignity in the face of racial oppression and violence,” said Donald Lee Moak, a member of the USPS Board of Governors, who served as the dedicating official.

“His novels would shine a light on individuals who were too often overlooked and remind us of the dignity present in every human being, especially those being oppressed,” he said.

Gaines (1933-2019) is the 46th honoree in the Postal Service’s Black Heritage stamp series.

He is best known for the novels “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” and “A Lesson Before Dying.” His fiction reflected a deep and unbreakable connection to his rural Louisiana roots and the plight of African Americans.

His critically acclaimed work earned a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” the National Humanities Medal and the National Medal of Arts.

Joining Moak for the ceremony were E. Joseph Savoie, president of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Keith Clark, professor of English and African and African American studies at George Mason University; Lillie Anne Brown, assistant professor of English at Florida A&M University; Mona Lisa Saloy, poet laureate of Louisiana; and author Wiley Cash.

Cheylon Woods, head of the Ernest J. Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, served as master of ceremonies.

The stamp features an oil painting of Gaines based on a 2001 photograph. Mike Ryan designed the stamp with art by Robert Peterson. Greg Breeding served as art director.

The stamp is available at Post Offices and