USPS Misquotes Maya Angelou on Stamp


The Unites States Postal Service is acknowledging Maya Angelou in a "Forever" stamp, but the quote isn't hers.  Joan Walsh Anglund said this but replaced "it" with "he."

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The designers may have confused the quote with her famous book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Another issue, of course, is the comma splice.

NPR summarizes responses from USPS:

USPS spokesman Mark Saunders responded to The Post, noting, "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."

On Tuesday, David Partenheimer, another spokesman for the Postal Service, added: "The sentence was chosen to accompany her image on the stamp to reflect her passion for the written and spoken word."

In other words, the stamp stays.

Anglund was gracious about the error: 

It's an interesting connection, and interesting it would happen and already be printed and on her stamp. I love her and all she's done, and I also love my own private thinking that also comes to the public because it comes from what I've been thinking and how I've been feeling."

Discussion Starters:

  • How does a mistake like this happen, and how could it have been avoided?
  • Assess USPS's response: tone, word choice, and the decision not to retract the stamp.