The U.S. Postal Service has unveiled the first look at its latest Forever Stamp, which honors late poet and bestselling author Maya Angelou.
The preview of the commemorative stamp comes roughly a month after the Postal Service announced that it would be honoring Angelou with her own stamp.
It was nearly a year ago that the nation bid farewell to one of its most iconic Black voices.
Angelou was 86 when she passed away.
During a time when race relations across the country are fraught with friction and the Black community continues to push for true equality and freedom in a country plagued by systemic racism, Angelou’s works are still extremely important and relevant today.
One of her most popular books, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, captures Angelou’s life growing up in the South during the Jim Crow era.
It’s from that memoir that the special stamp pulls a beautiful and well-known quote from Angelou that is prominently featured on the stamp beside her portrait.
“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song,” the stamp reads.
The original artwork is a hyper-realistic 4-foot-square oil-on-canvas piece that will now be on display as a part of the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery’s collection until Nov. 1.
Rossin revealed that the large piece was about more than capturing Angelou’s physical features.
“I wanted to capture her laughter, her cry and the forgiveness and blessings that came from her face,” Rossin said in the USPS announcement. “It is not only her portrait that is bigger than life. It is she herself who is bigger than life. The portrait is evidence of her magic.”
Rossin added that painting Angelou had long been a dream of his because of just how legendary and influential she was to all generations.
“She was a voice that inspired millions — not just as an individual, but as a legendary poet and a civil rights icon who transcended generations,” he added. “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.”
The First-Day-of-Issue stamp dedication ceremony will be open to the public although limited seats are available.
The ceremony will take place April 7 at the Warner Theater in Washington, D.C.