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West Virginia Hero Of Black History Celebrated On A Stamp

February 16, 2009

Charleston, WV – He was a Civil War vet at 15, won a landmark civil rights case, and founded the forerunner of the NAACP. Now this icon of Black history, West Virginia's own J.R. Clifford, has his own U.S. Postal Service stamp. The Clifford stamp will be unveiled at a celebration on Feb. 20 at the Cultural Center, Charleston.

Even though Clifford lived in the late 1800s, he was a man of important modern accomplishments, according to Judy Rodd with the J. R. Clifford Project at the Friends of Blackwater.

"He was a wonderful role model for West Virginia but has been forgotten for years. His work led to Brown v. Board of Education and the Voting Rights Act."

Among his accomplishments, Rodd says, Clifford was one of the founders of the Niagara Movement, which evolved into the NAACP. Clifford also was the winning attorney in a case before the West Virginia Supreme Court that addressed the inequality in school year between the state's segregated white and black schools, she adds.

"The decision came down in 1896 that the school year had to be equal and the teachers had to get equal pay - an amazing event for that time."

The celebration at the Cultural Center will begin at 11:30 a.m. Friday. Guests will include Gov. Joe and First Lady Gale Manchin, as well as representatives of Clifford's family.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV