• Taylor as a student at MIT, ca. 1890.

    Taylor as a student at MIT, ca. 1890.

    Photograph courtesy of the MIT Museum

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MIT event to commemorate Robert Robinson Taylor stamp

Event on May 13th will feature unveiling of a special pictorial postmark designed to memorialize stamp honoring Taylor, MIT’s first African-American graduate.

May 11, 2015

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Abby Abazorius
Email: abbya@mit.edu
Phone: 617-253-2709
MIT News Office

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On Wednesday, May 13 at 2 p.m., MIT will host an event to celebrate the induction of Robert Robinson Taylor, MIT’s first African-American graduate, into the Postal Service’s Black Heritage Stamp Series. The United States Postal Service (USPS) released a limited edition Forever Stamp earlier this year to honor Taylor, who is believed to be the nation’s first academically trained black architect. During the event, MIT and the USPS will unveil a special pictorial postmark of the Taylor stamp designed to commemorate the event.

The event, which will take place in the Stratton Student Center, will feature remarks by Hashim Sarkis, dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning; Katherine Lydon, postmaster for the City of Cambridge; and E. Denise Simmons, Cambridge city councillor.

Taylor, a member of the MIT Class of 1892, was born on June 6, 1868, in Wilmington, North Carolina. He learned construction and carpentry from his father, a former slave, before coming to Boston in 1888 to study architecture at MIT. Following his graduation from MIT, Taylor joined the faculty of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, what is now known as Tuskegee University. At Tuskegee, Taylor is credited with developing the school’s architecture curriculum, and designing and overseeing construction for dozens of new, state-of-the-art buildings on campus. He designed several buildings outside the Tuskegee campus as well, and helped establish the Booker T. Washington Agricultural and Industrial Institute in Liberia.

At MIT’s 50th anniversary celebration, Taylor summarized what his MIT training helped bring to Tuskegee: “the love of doing things correctly, of putting logical ways of thinking into the humblest task, of studying surrounding conditions, of soil, of climate, of materials and of using them to the best advantage in contributing to build up the immediate community in which the persons live, and in this way increasing the power and grandeur of the nation.”

Unveiling of special MIT pictorial postmark of the Robert Robinson Taylor postage stamp


  • Katherine Lydon, City of Cambridge postmaster
  • Hashim Sarkis, dean of the MIT School of Architecture and Planning
  • E. Denise Simmons, City of Cambridge councillor

Wednesday, May 13
2 p.m.

First Floor Lobby
MIT Stratton Student Center (Building W20, Room 100)
84 Massachusetts Avenue

Reporters interested in attending should RSVP to Abby Abazorius at abbya@mit.edu or by calling 617-253-2709.