Courtesy of Cornell University

Toni Morrison '55 and Ruth Bader Ginsberg '54 are featured on USPS's new collection of postal stamp designs.

November 9, 2022

U.S. Postal Service commemorates Toni Morrison, Ruth Bader Ginsburg through 2023 postal stamps

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The United States Postal Service will honor trailblazing Cornell alumnae Toni Morrison M.A. ’55 and Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’54 through new postage stamps set to be issued in 2023. Morrison and Ginsburg’s stamps were revealed on October 24, alongside the Postal Service’s preliminary list of new designs.

The stamps celebrate two of Cornell’s most prominent graduates. As Forever stamps, these commemorative works will always represent the existing price of one ounce First-Class Mail postage. 

A Pulitzer Prize-winner and the first African American Nobel Prize-winner for literature, Morrison was an accomplished author best known for her works like The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon and Beloved

“Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison was truly a genius and among the preeminent authors of world literature who helped to theorize and revolutionize American literature, while consistently reflecting on its history and culture in her vast body of writing,” Prof. Riché Richardson, africana studies, wrote in an email to the Sun. 

Morrison’s stamp, designed by USPS art director Ethel Kessler, features a photograph of Morrison taken in 2000 by Deborah Feingold. 

Alyiah Marie Gonzales grad did not know about Morrison’s new stamp but is excited to add a meaningful touch to her letters.

“​​Toni Morrison both exploded my world and shined a brilliant light on all of the different worlds I’ve been living in,” Gonzales wrote in an email to the Sun.

Gonzales hopes that those who see the stamp are inclined to learn more about Morrison. 

“Maybe like the dandelion spores at the end of Sula, these stamps can be their own little seeds scattering across our mail and messages to each other,” they wrote. 

In an email to the Sun, Shacoya Kidwell grad wrote that she is skeptical of performances of inclusivity, but finds poetry in using a Morrison postal stamp to seal messages back home.

“Morrison’s oeuvre, in many ways, tells an American story — not what lies in its periphery, but the roots and guts of this place,” Kidwell wrote.

According to Kidwell, the postal stamp is a small way to honor that.

Morrison died in 2019, at 88 years old. She has since been celebrated at Cornell through various English classes and commemorative events, including “Cornell Celebrates Toni Morrison” for her 90th birthday last year. 

Alongside Morrison’s stamp, Ethan Kessler designed Ginsburg’s stamp in coordination with painter Michael J. Deas. Deas painted Justice Ginsburg based on a photograph taken by Philip Bermingham.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the 107th justice and second ever woman to serve on the Supreme Court and was a relentless leader in the fight for equal rights and gender equality. Ginsburg died in 2020 at the age of 87.

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg was resilient, trusted her values and led a life of service in fighting for women’s rights. I am a proud resident of RBG, and I hope to be as strong as her someday,” said Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall Council president Maha Nallabola ’26.

Cornell has celebrated both Morrison and Ginsburg across campus. Last year, Toni Morrison Hall and Morrison Dining opened its doors to Cornellians. Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall opened to first-years this semester as part of the final stage of the North Campus Residential Expansion. 

“Those on US Postal Stamps should represent influential figures in America that deserve to be remembered for their contributions,” said Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall resident Steven Markman ’26, who hopes that future generations of students will learn about her impact.

Sharon Zou ’26, also a resident of Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall, said she is excited because stamps are a constant that will help keep Ginsburg’s legacy alive. 

Mitchell Hill ’26 said that although it is a small gesture, the small things in life count the most. 

“To me, she will always be the Notorious RBG, and I couldn’t be happier to live in a residence hall dedicated to her legacy,” Hill said.

Both Morrison and Ginsburg’s stamps will be issued in 2023 and can be purchased through the USPS Postal Store or at nationwide USA Philatelic or Post office locations.