Electronically Serving Monterey Park, Alhambra, San Gabriel, & Rosemead

History of the Lunar New Year Postage Stamp

Getting the USPS to create a Lunar New Year stamp series was no easy task. The inspiration originated with the Organization of Chinese Americans (OCA), known currently as OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, who began urging the USPS in the late ‘80s to issue the first U.S. stamp to honor the contributions of Chinese Americans.

According to the OCA, Jean Chen, a Georgia chapter member, was inspired by an old photograph that only showed Caucasian workers in a book about the history of building the Transcontinental Railroad. “This obvious slight of the numerous Chinese laborers involved in the Transcontinental Railroad construction incensed Chen, who felt that the Asian contributions to the US had been ignored for too long,” the OCA wrote in a 2009 newsletter detailing the Lunar New Year stamps’ history.

After drumming up support from other OCA chapters around the country, the USPS issued its first Lunar New Year stamp celebrating the Year of the Rooster in 1992.

Washington, DC – OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates welcomes the Lunar New Year with the Year of the Rat commemorative stamp soon to be released by the United States Postal Service. The First Day of Issue Ceremony of the stamp will take place in Monterey Park, California on January 11, 2020 and will be attended by officers of the OCA Greater Los Angeles Chapter and local communities.

The Year of the Rat Stamp is the first stamp in the third series of the Lunar New Year commemorative stamp program.

The idea of advocating for a commemorative stamp honoring Chinese and Asian Americans’ cultures and history came from OCA Georgia Chapter member Jean Chen in 1986. In 1991, OCA National President Claudine Cheng launched a national advocacy campaign urging the United States Postal Service to consider the proposal. The concept of a New Year Stamp was widely welcomed and the first Lunar New Year Stamp celebrating the Year of the Rooster was unveiled at the OCA National Convention in San Jose in 1992.

In view of the overwhelming interests in the stamp, the United States Postal Services proceeded to issue the entire 12-year cycle of the stamp. A second series followed in 2008 and, with the tireless advocacy of Cheng, the third series was approved to continue the celebration of the AAPI community.

“The stamp is an instrument of communication and it promotes awareness of a special aspect of the Asian American cultural heritage. Lunar New Year is celebrated by many ethnicities within the AAPI community. OCA is grateful for the support of Asian Americans and major civic organizations throughout the country for the Lunar New Year commemorative stamp program and will continue to work with the United States Postal Service on new concepts featuring diverse Asian American heritage,” said OCA National President Sharon Wong and Past National President Claudine Cheng.

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