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March 1: Africa Honors Anti-Apartheid Jews

March 1, 2016

pas_stamps_sierra-leone_041511_350_350_c1The postal services of Liberia, Gambia, and Sierra Leone joined together on this date in 2011 to release a set of commemorative stamps honoring a dozen Jews who fought apartheid and racism in Africa. The black-and-white stamps show Helen Suzman, Eli Weinberg, Esther Barsel and Hymie Barsel (Liberia); Yetta Barenblatt, Ray Alexander Simons, Baruch Hirson and Norma Kitson (Sierra Leone, shown at left); and Ruth First, Hilda Bernstein, Lionel “Rusty” Bernstein and Ronald Segal (Gambia). “This stamp issue acknowledges the extraordinary sacrifices made by Jews to the liberation of their African brethren, and these stamps recognize some of the most significant contributors to global humanity in the 20th century,” read the text on one of the commemorative sheets, of which fewer than 100,000 copies were printed. The project was the brainchild of Grant Gochin, a South African-born, Los Angeles-based money manager who was active in the anti-apartheid movement and now serves as the Honorary Consul of Togo. “All of these people were just so ordinary and so unpretentious, down to earth and not looking for accolades,” Gochin said. “Their legacy is being forgotten, and we can’t allow that.” To read more about the activists who were honored, and Gochin’s motivations, click here.

“About three weeks after the stamps were first issued, nearly a thousand copies of each sheet had been sold — meaning that the ‘Heroes’ series was selling better than any of the 69 different stamps celebrating the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton...” —Jonah Lowenfeld