Charlene Blair started her stamp collection in 1991. After reading an article in Jet Magazine about stamp collections, she found her new hobby and the journey began. Starting with stamps in Black Heritage series to more obscure stamps, the collection began to grow to greeting cards, post cards- anything with a stamp on it. Charlene noticed an interesting trend that there were not a lot of collectors of African Americans on stamps. After making this realization, stamp collecting became not only a relaxing hobby, but also a start to a conversation about African-American representation in the stamp industry. Thus, her idea to create the nonprofit National Museum of African-Americans on Stamps was born.
Charlene’s mission of the museum is multifaceted. In terms of the hobby of stamp collecting, she just wants to promote the underappreciated hobby. It is relaxing and she has found that for women who are healing, this can be a calming activity. On the other hand, there are so many impactful African-Americans on stamps that do not get the recognition they deserve. Charlene says, “ I want kids to realize there are more African-Americans for kids to do book reports on than just Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks.” She even has some ideas for people to put on stamps such as Charles Hamilton Houston, a lesser- known influencer and activist in overturning the Jim Crow Laws. Charlene explains how this conversation has not been as important as it is now in our current political climate. Understanding how much African-Americans have done for this country is crucial. One of her biggest struggles with this whole project has been to understand that not everyone is going to be a supporter. However, she is finding her audience and giving them the best that she can.
Much of her inspiration derives from the Kinsey Art Collection. This is a national touring exhibit of rare art and artifacts telling the untold stories of African-Americans. She wanted to do the same. On her son’s third birthday, Charlene decided she wanted to leave him with a legacy. Over the years, this is something their family has learned to grow and appreciate together.
After being convinced to fulfill her desire to become a nonprofit by a neighboring stamp collector at a show, she looked into the forms online. After the exhaustion of filling out a couple pages of the documents, she took a break and found our profile in Essence magazine.
Currently, the virtual-traveling museum is active on Facebook and participating in many stamp collection shows. The museum chose to work with Resilia because of how easy it made the whole process. Over a two week period in August 2017, we helped Charlene to incorporate her nonprofit in Illinois, receive tax exemption with the IRS, and her nonprofit utilizes our compliance subscription. To learn more and see the stamp collection, check out the Museum’s Facebook page and their website.
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