WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) — The U.S. Postal Service issued a new limited edition “Forever” stamp Tuesday, honoring the late poet, author and civil rights champion Maya Angelou, but it carries a quote that apparently originated elsewhere.
Angelou, who spent her formative years in the San Francisco Bay Area, rose from poverty, segregation and violence to become a force on stage, screen and the printed page. She died last May at her Winston-Salem, North Carolina, home at 86.
The stamp dedicated Tuesday at a Washington ceremony showcases Atlanta artist Ross Rossin’s 2013 portrait of Angelou, an oil painting in the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery collection.
The stamp includes the quotation: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”
Children’s book author Joan Walsh Anglund told The Washington Post the quotation is in her book of poems “A Cup of Sun,” published in 1967. Anglund, 89, said she didn’t know about the stamp but that she hopes it is successful.
“It’s an interesting connection, and interesting it would happen and already be printed and on her stamp,” Anglund said. “I love her and all she’s done.”
The quote has been attributed to Angelou before. Last year, while presenting the National Medal of the Arts and Humanities, President Barack Obama attributed the quote to Angelou while honoring other artists.
Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said Tuesday that the quotation was included because it’s something Angelou referenced frequently.
“Maya Angelou cited this sentence frequently in media interviews and other forums and it provides a connection to her first memoir ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,'” he said. “The sentence was chosen to accompany her image on the stamp to reflect her passion for the written and spoken word. The sentence held great meaning for her and she is publicly identified with its popularity.”
Ethel Kessler of Bethesda, Maryland, designed the stamp based on Rossin’s portrait, the postal service said.
Angelou was a longtime professor of American studies at Wake Forest University.
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