The Maya Angelou stamp: Did Postal Service pick the right quote?

The United States Postal Service honors author Maya Angelou with a forever stamp that includes a quote from her most famous novel "I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings." 

Ross Rossin
The U.S. Postal Service previewed the Dr. Maya Angelou Forever Stamp image today and announced that the First-Day-of-Issue stamp dedication ceremony will take place at 11 a.m., Tue., April 7, at the Warner Theater in Washington, DC.

The US Postal Service revealed the design of its forever stamp honoring author, poet, actress, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou.

The stamp will feature an incredibly lifelike oil portrait of Angelou by artist Ross Rossin, the original of which hangs in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Beside the painting will be the quote “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song,” from her autobiographical novel “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” (1969).  

“Maya Angelou inspired the nation through a life of advocacy and through her many contributions to the written and spoken word,” Megan J. Brennan, USPS Postmaster General said in a press statement in February.

Angelou wrote 36 books, was an actress, worked as a journalist in Egypt and Ghana during the decolonization of Africa, worked with Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and gave hundreds of lectures around the world.

While the quote chosen for the stamp is representative of her most famous work, her writings are awash with more powerful and inspirational quotes that champion values that would be fitting for this stamp – or perhaps the next one?

Bravery:Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can't practice any other virtue consistently.” (Said in a speech in 1988)

Forgiveness: “"It's one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, to forgive. Forgive everybody.” (Said in an interview with Oprah)

Positivity: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” (“Letter to My Daughter”)

The US Postal Service used to have a rule that only people who have been deceased for five years could be honored on stamp, but it was overturned in 2011, allowing for Angelou, who died May 28, 2014 to be honored.

The first-day-of issue dedication ceremony for the Maya Angelou stamp will be held on April 7 at the Warner Theatre in Washington D.C., and the stamp will be available for pre order shortly after. To spread awareness for the stamp and the ceremony, the US Postal Service is encouraging people to tweet with the hashtag #MayaForever.

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