The portrait of Ms. Morrison was one of many taken before selecting one for the magazine’s cover. More than 25 years later, Ms. Feingold recalled Ms. Morrison’s focus and patience throughout the daylong shoot, taken on film before the days of digital cameras.
“Her expression for every frame was one of kindness,” Ms. Feingold said.
Ms. Morrison joins other Black trailblazers, including writers, who have been featured on Postal Service stamps since 1978, among them James Baldwin, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson and Ethel L. Payne.
“One of the goals of our stamp program is to raise awareness and celebrate the people who represent the very best of our nation,” Pritha Mehra, chief information officer and executive vice president of the U.S.P.S., said in a statement.
Ms. Morrison’s son, Harold Ford Morrison, and his family were in attendance at the unveiling of the stamp, designed by Ethel Kessler, a U.S.P.S. art director. Ms. Morrison’s younger son, Slade Morrison, died of pancreatic cancer in 2010.
Featuring Ms. Morrison on a stamp is another recognition of her contributions to American literature and culture, said Carolyn Denard, the founder and board chair of the Toni Morrison Society, which supports scholarship and community outreach on her work and legacy. Dr. Denard wrote her dissertation on Ms. Morrison’s writing and had an enriching relationship with her throughout the years, she said.
“What I take away from Morrison is her love for Black people” in a broad way that took into account the larger context of their lives, Dr. Denard said, adding: “To understand deeply their history, their culture, their value, the contributions that they made to this society, their resilience, their ability to be present given all that has happened to them in history. She used to say that our very presence here is remarkable.”
Ms. Morrison’s commemoration on the stamp comes as some of her writings, particularly “The Bluest Eye,” have been targeted by book bans in K-12 schools across the U.S., fueled by conservative influence in legislation and a broader push to purge books about race, gender and sexuality.