Maya Angelou, poet, author and champion of civil rights, has just been honored by having a “Forever” stamp printed and issued in her likeness by the U.S. Postal Service.

Ms. Angelou, who chronicled her heart wrenching life story in the book, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,”  overcame impossible odds to become a prominent spokesperson for her race, and the American condition.

Celebrated as American literary royalty in life, Ms. Angelou is now being posthumously disrespected by the misquotation on the stamp meant to honor her.

The quotation, “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song,” is really the creation of 89 year old children’s book author Jane Walsh Anglund, who has been, for the most part, diplomatic about the situation.

Ms. Walsh displays a hint of disappointment when she says the quote shows “An interesting connection, and interesting it would happen and already be printed on her stamp.” Overall, she seems to be taking it in stride.

The real rub comes from the U.S. Postal Service and it’s spokesman, David Partenheimer.

Mr. Partenheimer says “The sentence was chosen to accompany her image on the stamp to reflect her passion for the written and spoken word.”  So, you actually planned to misquote Ms. Angelou from the beginning?  Unbelievable!  Partenheimer continues to gloss over the mistake in judgment, “The sentence held great meaning for her and she is publicly identified with its popularity.”

Ms. Angelou is also “publicly identified” as a person who wanted misquotes corrected. (See the Martin Luther King memorial’s “Drum Major” quote correction.)  Talk about your cruel irony!

Hopefully Oprah Winfrey, who considered Angelou a “mentor-mother-sister-friend,” will use her White House connection to help change the quote to one of the many eloquent quotes actually created by Ms. Angelou.

Horace W. Morris, Jr.

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