U.S. # 4979
2015 49¢ Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou (1928-2014) once said “my mission in life is not to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” And she did.
By her mid-twenties, Angelou was performing in touring musicals and plays and had released her first music album, Miss Calypso. She spent much of her 30s abroad, learning the languages of the countries she visited, teaching, and writing.
In 1969, Angelou made literary history. The initial installment of her memoirs, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, became the first best-selling nonfiction work by an African-American woman. From there, Angelou went on to author numerous inspirational books, poems, and essays. She never attended college but was awarded more than 50 honorary doctoral degrees and taught as a professor at Wake Forest University for 25 years. In 2010 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Poet, actor, author, teacher, and activist, Angelou became an influential voice of the 20th century. She was known for her timeless wisdom and is remembered for her numerous contributions to American culture. Despite her many talents and accomplishments, Maya Angelou wished to be remembered simply as a “good human being.”
Value: 49¢ 1-ounce first-class letter rate
Issued: April 7, 2015
First Day City: Warner Theater, Washington, D.C.
Type of Stamp: Commemorative
Printed by: Banknote Corporation of America for Sennett Security Products
Method: Offset with microprinting in sheets of 96 in 8 panes of 12
Perforation: Serpentine Die Cut 11
Quantity Printed: 40,000,004 stamps
Angelou’s portrait for the stamp was taken from Atlanta artist Ross Rossin’s large 48” x 48” oil on canvas painting, which is part of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s collection. Upon seeing the 2013 portrait, Angelou exclaimed, “This is exactly how I see myself and exactly how I wish to be remembered.” The stamp pane has a popular Angelou quote: “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
Shortly before its issue, the stamp stirred some controversy as the quote it includes was originally published in a book of poetry by Joan Walsh Anglund. Angelou was widely credited for the quote, and while she may not have originally wrote it, she did say it in an interview.