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  Halifax Community College (HCC) held a stamp dedication commemorating legendary jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald as part of Black History Month festivities, Feb. 28. For the first time, HCC partnered with the U.S. Postal Service to bring a stamp dedication to campus.

 Dr. Ervin V. Griffin, Sr., president of HCC said, “Today, we celebrate a legend. Her unique style and vocal ability created a musical genre all its own. It's her musical genius that we celebrate.”

 “She was one of the world's greatest jazz singers for over 50 years,” said Mayor Johnny Draper of Weldon. He recalled her appearances on TV variety shows in the 1950's, 60s and 70s and referred to a commercial in which Fitzgerald's voice was featured. “The commercial showed the power of this lady's voice.”

 “Ella Fitzgerald was widely known as the first lady of song. Her magnificent voice combined with her gift of pitch made her a remarkable 20th century legend. This stamp is a powerful reminder of her extraordinary contribution to the world of music,” said Toni Agner, Roanoke Rapids postmaster. “We encourage everyone, children and adults alike, to learn more about black history and African Americans on these stamps.”

 Fitzgerald became the 30th honoree in the popular Black Heritage commemorative stamp series issued by the U.S. Postal Service, Jan. 10 of this year. The Postal Service commemorated the 39-cent stamp during a first-day-of-issue ceremony in New York. The stamp image is a portrait based on a photograph taken in 1956 that captures the excitement that she brought to music.

 Fitzgerald won 13 Grammy awards and several other honors, including the National Medal of Arts, presented by President Ronald Reagan in 1987. She received Kennedy Center Honors in 1979, a lifetime achievement award in 1989, and was inducted into Lincoln Center's Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame in 2005. 

Kipp Pride Jazz Band, Gaston College Preparatory performs under the direction of Kenneth Woodley 

Video Presentation about Ella Fitzgerald

First Baptist Church (Weldon) Praise Dance Ministry performs under the direction of Deborah Clemmons 

Carl Walton, USPS Communications Coordinator

HCC President, Dr. Ervin V. Griffin, Sr. Jazz Vocalist Jackie Ruffin performs 

Mayor Johnny Draper of Weldon Roanoke Rapids Postmaster Toni Agner

 HCC's Ruby Ward, College Transfer Specialist and Shaun Stokes, History Instructor

The Unveiling

Dr. Griffin with Toni Agner and the Ella Fitzgerald Commemorative Stamp

A cake and punch reception followed the unveiling of the Fitzgerald commemorative stamp