The late Ernest J. Gaines, the celebrated author and long-time educator at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, is being honored by having his image appear on a U.S. postage stamp. The stamp will feature an oil painting based on a photograph that portrays a stoic, poised Gaines wearing his trademark beret.
“Dr. Gaines’ stamp offers an impressive representation of the man I knew and admired, and it reminds me of the immeasurable grace, strength, and character he displayed throughout his life and through his words,” said Joseph Savoie, president of the University of Louisiana Lafayette. “More importantly, it acknowledges and affirms his belief in the inherent commonality of people and his unflinching courage in reminding us of the need to continually address some of the darkest chapters in our collective past.”
Professor Gaines taught at the University of Louisiana Lafayette from 1983 to 2010. He was the author of nine novels and several short stories. Among Gaines’ most famous works are The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, In My Father’s House, and A Lesson Before Dying.
Ernest Gaines was born on the River Lake Plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, where his ancestors had toiled as slaves. His parents were sharecroppers. At the age of 15, he moved to California because the local high school did not allow African Americans to enroll. Gaines was a graduate of San Francisco State University. He earned a master of fine arts degree at Stanford University.
Professor Gaines died in 2019.