Maya Angelou stamp includes quote that isn't hers

Maya Angelou Stamp Has Glaring Error
Maya Angelou Stamp Has Glaring Error

Maya Angelou was known for her inspirational and thought-provoking quotes, so it's only fitting that a stamp commemorating her features one.

A new postage stamp that was unveiled in a dedication ceremony Tuesday morning celebrating the late literary icon aimed to do just that. It features her image with the quote, "A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song." Except that quote ... isn't Angelou's.

Those words actually belong to Joan Walsh Anglund, an 89-year-old children's book author.

She told The Washington Post the line appeared in her book of poems "A Cup of Sun," which was published in 1967. The only change is in the pronouns and punctuation -- from "he" to "it" on the stamp.

Upon hearing about the misattribution, a Postal Service spokesman told The Post the quote is credited to Angelou by numerous references, including in one of President Obama's speeches in 2013.

But once Anglund confirmed it was in fact hers, he said, "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."

Anglund took it all in stride, saying, "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. I love [Maya Angelou] and all she's done."

Angelou died last year at the age of 86. Among the many honors the famed author/poet received during her life, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the highest honor given to a US civilian -- in 2010.

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Originally published