The United States Postal Service paid tribute to the first Black graduate of MIT by dedicating the 2015 Black Heritage stamp in his honor. According to WUSA9, the late Robert Robinson Taylor had a stamp commemorated by the USPS to recognize his educational achievement at MIT and for being the first academically-trained Black architect in the country. Taylor is also the great grandfather of President Barack Obama’s Senior Advisor, Valerie Jarrett who was also on hand for the ceremony which took place on Feb. 12. Taylor became the 38th inductee inside of the stamp series, which was held at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C
Taylor was born in North Carolina in 1868 and began taking an interest in construction and carpentry from his father, who was a former slave. Taylor began working as a construction foreman for a few years, when he moved to Boston in 1888 where he attended MIT and graduated in 1892. Later he received and accepted a job offer from Booker T. Washington to work at the Tuskegee Institute. For over 30 years, Taylor supervised the design and creation of Tuskegee as well as overseeing the institution’s programs specializing in building trades and industrial education. When speaking about her great-grandfather, Ms. Jarrett revealed:
Anytime I face a daunting challenge and self-doubt creeps in, I think of my great grandfather, Robert Taylor, the son of a slave, who traveled from Wilmington, NC, to attend M.I.T. in 1882. He believed that with a good education, hard work, relentless determination and a dedication to family, there were no limits to what he could accomplish. The example he set gives me strength and courage. My family is proud to stand on his shoulders and we know that it is our responsibility to embrace his values, to ensure that his legacy will be ‘forever stamped’ in the conscious of future generations.