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Newark, New Jersey hosts black cinema 1st-day party in Honor of Jazz Legend Duke Ellington












There was an event in Hoboken when the Frank Sinatra stamp came out in May, but it wasn't a first-day-of-issue ceremony. Two of those were held in New York and Las Vegas. The one in Hoboken was called a "first day of sale" ceremony, somewhat a diminished honor.


But New Jersey will host a genuine first-day-of-issue party July 16 at the Newark Museum, where the Vintage Black Cinema stamps will make their debut during the annual Newark Black Film Festival.


The colorful 42-cent commemoratives are based on five vintage movie posters: for the 1921 silent film "The Sport of the Gods"; the 1929 movie "Black and Tan," which featured the first screen appearance of Duke Ellington; the 1935 French film "Princess Tam-Tam," one of four movies to star Josephine Baker; "Hallelujah" from 1929, one of the first major-studio films with an all-black cast, and the 1945 short "Caldonia," with singer, saxophonist and "jump blues" bandleader Louis Jordan.


The selected posters trace the evolution of black cinema from the so-called "race" movies made for exclusively African-American audiences to the films aimed at broader audiences that the irrepressible talent of black artists demanded. They are a historical record of American cultural and social progress.


The stamps, designed by Carl Herrman of Carlsbad, Calif., will be in panes of 20, with four rows of the five stamps.


The first-day ceremony, which will begin at 10 a.m., will include appearances by actress Lynn Whitfield, who played Josephine Baker in the 1991 movie "The Josephine Baker Story," Martha Jordan, the wife of Louis Jordan, Jean-Claude and Garry Baker, sons of Josephine Baker, and Gloria Hopkins Buck, chairwoman of the film festival. It is open to the public, and the stamps and black cinema memorabilia will be on sale.


Begun in 1974, the Newark Black Film Festival is the longest-running such event in the United States.


The Newark Museum, an underappreciated gem in downtown Newark, is at 49 Washington St., across from Washington Park.


For more information, go online at or or call (800) 782-6724 for the Postal Service or (973) 596-6550 for the museum.


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