The Postal Service will release this year’s Black Heritage stamp, honoring civil rights activist and pioneering jurist Constance Baker Motley, on Wednesday, Jan. 31.
Motley is the first African American woman to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court and the first to serve as a federal judge.
She started her career in 1945 when she began working for future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
From 1945 to 1965, Motley worked on about 60 cases that reached the Supreme Court. She won nine of the 10 cases she argued there.
In 1966, Motley was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York — the largest and busiest federal trial court in the country. She rose to chief judge in 1982 and senior judge in 1986.
The stamp features a portrait of Motley by artist Charly Palmer, based on an Associated Press photograph.
Rendered in acrylic on canvas, the portrait displays elements of Palmer’s signature style, including stenciled circular shapes around the head that suggest royalty, and heavy brushstrokes and scratches that provide added texture.
Motley is the 47th honoree in the Black Heritage stamp series, joining other luminaries such as Marshall, lawmaker Barbara Jordan, educator Mary McLeod Bethune and journalist Gwen Ifill.
The Constance Baker Motley stamp will be available in panes of 20 at Post Offices and usps.com.
The Postal Service will dedicate the stamp Jan. 31 at a ceremony in New York City.