Five Things Maya Angelou Didn’t Say, On A Stamp

It seems that poet Maya Angelou didn’t say the quote attributed to her on the stamp the United States Postal Service created in her honor.



The stamp reads “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. Ms. Angelou, an inspirational author, poet and speaker, is responsible for so many inspirational lines. Sadly, the one about the singing bird isn’t one of hers. Another writer, Joan Walsh Anglund, produced that gem.

Maya Angelou wrote seven books in addition to her poems, plays and speeches. It is hard to conceive of how the Postal Service couldn’t track down a line that they were certain that Ms. Angelou was responsible for.

Obviously, this stamp is going to have to be redesigned with a new quote or a picture of Ms. Anglund. Since I have some time on my hands, I figured that I’d rework the stamp with some new quotes. In the spirit of the designer of the original Angelou stamp, I have created five new stamps with things Ms. Angelou never said.

It isn’t easy to come up with things that a person never said. There’s no data base to track such things. And even with someone as prolific as Ms. Angelou, the things she didn’t say far out number those that she did. I had to take a different path.

I chose to redesign the Angelou stamp using the words of another quotable American – Muhammad Ali.

It Is Just A Job

My first stamp, features something that Maya Angelou never said about her job. Actually, she might have said this, but if she did, it was to a trusted confidant who did not make any sort of record of it.

(original stamp design, USPS)

(original stamp design, USPS)

Of course, if she did say this, we can hardly blame anyone who heard it for deciding to keep quiet about it, can we?

Wow, Ms. Angelou, That’s Fast

Few know anything of Maya Angelou’s sleeping habits. I’d bet fewer still can recall having seen her run. But I’m willing to bet that she could sleep or run when the situation called for those sorts of things.

If her commemorative stamp featured this quote, we’d have a better handle on how quick she really was and how important she thought a good night’s rest was.

(original stamp design USPS)

(original stamp design USPS)

That’s fast. Even if we’re talking about a room with a dimmer switch, that is really quick.


Boxing is a tough game. Ali knew that from experience. Angelou, we’ve got to assume she didn’t have as much direct knowledge. But if she said this about me, I certainly wouldn’t question it.

(original stamp design, USPS)

(original stamp design, USPS)

That’s hard to visualize. Let us not dwell on it; it sounds pretty harsh.

Thank You, Maya, I Think

One of the things that tells me how influential Maya Angelou was is how my wife was inspired by what she heard when Ms. Angelou guest lectured at her university.

The power to lift young hearts is a gift. And if a young heart actually received this line from Ms. Angelou I’m sure they’d know that they could achieve anything in this life. Anything.

Original stamp design, USPS)

Original stamp design, USPS)

Maya is right. I can be somebody. But first, I need an answer to a question that has bothered me for a long time. If you go to a penicillin factory, is there a big room full of spoiled bread?

No Respect

My final Maya Angelou via Muhammad Ali tribute stamp concerns one of Ali’s all time greatest foes, Joe Frazier.

(original stamp design USPS)

(original stamp design USPS)

This would be insulting enough coming from Ali, but imagine how awful you’d feel if someone like Ms. Angelou dropped your name into this line.

So, Postal Service, please consider these designs as you revamp your Maya Angelou stamp. And remember, anyone worthy of a tribute (as Ms. Angelou is) is worthy of an accurate tribute.

Because I needed to beat this idea to death, I’ve created more Maya Angelou stamps and posted them over at Long Awkward Pause. Click over to see the Angelou tribute stamp with quotes from Charlie Sheen and Kanye West


5 Comments on “Five Things Maya Angelou Didn’t Say, On A Stamp”

  1. […] This post grew out of an idea I had on my blog. Need to see this idea beaten to death? Come on over. […]

  2. pegoleg says:

    After this snafu was brought to their attention, the US Postal Service, thinking quickly, decided to keep the stamp as is and consider it a dedication to another fine, American tradition which they embody – incompetence.

  3. LRose says:

    Reblogged this on The Daily Prompt Alternative and commented:
    As you know, we like our quotes here at ODP. This is a great post from a very funny guy regarding the misquoted quote on the new Maya Angelou US Stamp.

  4. Much like your wife, I was inspired when I heard Maya Angelou speak at a convention I attended in New York City. She brought me to tears the second she walked on stage. I have always been a huge fan and she was first on my list in answer to that question, “If you could have lunch with anyone who would it be?” . I am stunned by the US postal service’s lack of authenticity.
    On another note I really enjoyed you lambasting them with your quotes.

  5. Mr. Atheist says:

    I’m still laughing!

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