Maya Angelou’s Stamp Has a Glaring Problem

That quote? Not really hers
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2015 11:30 AM CDT
Maya Angelou’s Stamp Has a Glaring Problem
The limited edition “Forever” stamp honoring the late poet, author, and civil rights champion Maya Angelou.   (AP Photo/USPS)

Maya Angelou is a poet, author, civil rights icon, cultural giant, and as of today the face of the United States Postal Service's latest Forever stamp. What she is not, however, is author of the quote attributed to her that graces the aforementioned stamp, reports the Washington Post. "A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song," reads the quote oft attributed to Angelou. But another author, Joan Walsh Anglund, says the quote is hers. "A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because he has a song," reads a passage from page 15 of Anglund's 1967 book, A Cup of Sun. "Yes, that’s my quote," she told the Post last night.

A Postal Service rep initially stood by the quote (which was approved by Angelou's family, notes the Post), citing—what else?—the Internet. When told Anglund had verified it as her own, he added that, "Had we known about this issue beforehand, we would have used one of [Angelou’s] many other works." A very disappointed Emerson College lit professor tells the Post it's particularly discouraging because Angelou is so "eminently quotable. You can flip open one of her books at random and pull out something." For her part, Anglund is being pretty magnanimous. "I love her things, of course," she says of Angelou. "But I think it easily happens sometimes that people hear something, and it’s kind of going into your subconscious and you don’t realize it." (Angelou had pretty blunt thoughts about the quotes put on MLK's monument.)

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