A phenomenal woman immortalized forever
by Bradley Donalson
Maya Angelou—renowned poet, author, and actress—will be featured on a USPS Forever Stamp. Oprah Winfrey, former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young, and artist Ross Rossin will join Postmaster General Megan Brennan at the first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony on Tuesday, April 7.
Angelou was an award-winning and distinguished writer. Most known for her autobiographical novel I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she was also a poet, playwright, actress, civil rights activist, and LGBT advocate. She was nominated for both a Tony Award for her role in the play Look Away and a Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water ‘fore I Diiie. She served on two presidential committees, for Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, and was given the National Medal for the Arts by President Clinton and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama. Over the course of her life, she received more than 50 honorary degrees, and more than 30 healthcare and medical facilities bear her name. Angelou died in May of last year at the age of 86.
The portrait used for the stamp was painted by Ross Rossin. Rossin’s hyper-realistic style looks more like a photograph than a painting, and some of his other portraits are currently hanging in the National Portrait Gallery. Rossin commented on Angelou’s portrait by saying, “I was compelled by the challenge to portray her forgiving smile and her aura of unconditional love and understanding that comes across when having a conversation with her.” Ambassador Young introduced the artist to Angelou, and later that day, they attended a birthday party held in her honor that was given by Oprah Winfrey.
The stamp will also prominently feature one of Angelou’s quotations “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” The stamp pane will also include an excerpt from Angelou’s Letter to My Daughter, “Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.” The stamps will begin being issued on April 7, and they are currently available for preorder at https://store.usps.com/store/browse/uspsProductDetailMultiSkuDropDown.jsp?productId=S_472604.