Say What Now? The Quote on the New Maya Angelou Stamp Isn't Actually Hers


Sometime later today, a stamp honoring the late Dr. Maya Angelou is to be unveiled.

The stamp features Dr. Angelou’s likeness alongside this quote:

“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”

There’s only problem — the quote featured on the stamp attributed to Dr. Angelou isn’t actually her quote.

The quote belongs to an author named Joan Walsh Anglund.

“Yes, that’s my quote,” Anglund said Monday night from her Connecticut home. It appears on page 15 of her book of poems “A Cup of Sun,” published in 1967. Only the pronouns and punctuation are changed, from “he” in Anglund’s original to “it” on the stamp.

Over the years, the quote has widely been attributed to Dr. Angelou. Even President Obama used it in remarks at the presentation of the 2013 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities.

Postal Service spokesman Mark Saunders told the Post that “numerous references” attributed the quote to her, as well. It has been associated with her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

On Monday night, Saunders wrote in an e-mail to the Washington Post, “Had we known about this issue beforehand, we would have used one of [Angelou’s] many other works. … The sentence held great meaning for her and she is publicly identified with its popularity.”

Despite it all, Anglund tells the Post, that “it’s something that easily happens” and she hopes “the stamp is successful.”

[via USA Today]

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