Saturday Open Thread | Black Poets Week: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

We end this week with Maya Angelou.

Global Renaissance Woman

Dr. Maya Angelou is one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. Hailed as a global renaissance woman, Dr. Angelou is a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist.

Born on April 4th, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Angelou was raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. In Stamps, Dr. Angelou experienced the brutality of racial discrimination, but she also absorbed the unshakable faith and values of traditional African-American family, community, and culture.

As a teenager, Dr. Angelou’s love for the arts won her a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco’s Labor School. At 14, she dropped out to become San Francisco’s first African-American female cable car conductor. She later finished high school, giving birth to her son, Guy, a few weeks after graduation. As a young single mother, she supported her son by working as a waitress and cook, however her passion for music, dance, performance, and poetry would soon take center stage.

In 1954 and 1955, Dr. Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. She studied modern dance with Martha Graham, danced with Alvin Ailey on television variety shows and, in 1957, recorded her first album, Calypso Lady. In 1958, she moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild, acted in the historic Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet’s The Blacks and wrote and performed Cabaret for Freedom.

In 1960, Dr. Angelou moved to Cairo, Egypt where she served as editor of the English language weekly The Arab Observer. The next year, she moved to Ghana where she taught at the University of Ghana’s School of Music and Drama, worked as feature editor for The African Review and wrote for The Ghanaian Times.

During her years abroad, Dr. Angelou read and studied voraciously, mastering French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language Fanti. While in Ghana, she met with Malcolm X and, in 1964, returned to America to help him build his new Organization of African American Unity.

Shortly after her arrival in the United States, Malcolm X was assassinated, and the organization dissolved. Soon after X’s assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked Dr. Angelou to serve as Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King’s assassination, falling on her birthday in 1968, left her devastated.

With the guidance of her friend, the novelist James Baldwin, she began work on the book that would become I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Published in 1970, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published to international acclaim and enormous popular success. The list of her published verse, non-fiction, and fiction now includes more than 30 bestselling titles.

A trailblazer in film and television, Dr. Angelou wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia. Her script, the first by an African American woman ever to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

She continues to appear on television and in films including the landmark television adaptation of Alex Haley’s Roots (1977) and John Singleton’s Poetic Justice (1993). In 1996, she directed her first feature film, Down in the Delta. In 2008, she composed poetry for and narrated the award-winning documentary The Black Candle, directed by M.K. Asante.

Dr. Angelou has served on two presidential committees, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and has received 3 Grammy Awards. President Clinton requested that she compose a poem to read at his inauguration in 1993. Dr. Angelou’s reading of her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” was broadcast live around the world.

Dr. Angelou has received over 50 honorary degrees and is Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.

Dr. Angelou’s words and actions continue to stir our souls, energize our bodies, liberate our minds, and heal our hearts.

This entry was posted in Open Thread, Politics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Saturday Open Thread | Black Poets Week: Maya Angelou

  1. rikyrah says:

    Sat, 15 March 2014 at 7:08 pm
    David Brenner Dead – Comedian & ‘Tonight Show’ Favorite Dies at Age 78

    David Brenner, most known for his 158 appearances on Johnny Carson‘s The Tonight Show, has died at the age of 78.

    The comedian and actor passed away after losing his battle to cancer on Saturday (March 15).

    “Brenner died peacefully at his home in NYC surrounded by his family at his side,” David‘s rep shared in a statement to THR.

    During his lifetime, David wrote five books and also starred in 1989 romantic comedy Worth Winning.

    David is survived by his partner Tai Babilonia and his sons Cole, Slade, and Wyatt.

  2. Ametia says:

    Has anyone seen the Single Mom’s Club?

  3. Ametia says:

    Family says brain-dead Jahi McMath showing signs of life
    Source: San Francisco Chronicle

    Despite being declared brain-dead three months ago, 13-year-old Jahi McMath of Oakland is tossing and turning in her hospital bed and signaling that she’s aware of what’s going on around her, a family member said Friday.

    Jahi suffered what doctors say were terminal complications from a tonsillectomy at Children’s Hospital Oakland on Dec. 9 and was certified dead three days later. But her family has refuted the certification and moved the teen’s body to an undisclosed care facility, where she remains connected to a ventilator and feeding tube.

    Read more:

  4. rikyrah says:

    “Maleficent” Promo Pics

    Posted on March 14, 2014

    We’re not entirely sure, based on the trailers, that this isn’t going to be too goofy to enjoy but one thing cannot be denied: it certainly all looks gorgeous, doesn’t it?

    That costume is stunning. And she was born to play this role. But we don’t know… the trailers make it look too much like that Kristen Stewart “Snow White” joint – and that was pretty damn goofy in the end. Granted, there were a TON of people who snorted at the idea of K Stew playing Snow White, but as far as we know, the entire world said “Oh, of course,” when Angelina landed this role.

    Discussion point: What is it about the time we live in that we’re so enthralled by fairy tales again?

    • Liza says:

      I am definitely looking forward to Season 7 of Mad Men. I’ve only been a fan for a couple of years because I didn’t have cable for a long time. But I saw the first four seasons on DVD and I think this is one of the best television series ever.

  5. rikyrah says:

    The Veronica Mars movie is out!!

    I’m watching it – On Demand!

  6. rikyrah says:

    What’s Really Offensive About Paul Ryan’s Remarks

    by BooMan
    Sat Mar 15th, 2014 at 11:52:44 AM EST

    I’m of three minds about the controversy surrounding Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) recent comments about the work ethic of men living in our inner cities. Taken in isolation, the comments were deeply stereotypical and disrespectful. Any effort to take the racial assumptions out of his comments will fail for the simple reason that we know which ethnic groups predominate in our inner cities. Let’s look at the part of the interview he did with Bill Bennett that caused an uproar:

    “And so, that’s this tailspin or spiral that we’re looking at in our communities. You know your buddy (conservative scholar) Charles Murray or (public policy professor) Bob Putnam over at Harvard, those guys have written books on this, which is we have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities, in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work; and so there’s a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.”

    As a kind of gesture of good faith, I’d like to warn all conservatives that you cannot cite Charles Murray approvingly on any matter touching on race without getting accused of peddling racism. It’s going to happen to you every time so, before you cite him, you should decide if it is really your desire to be seen in that light by a large number of people.

  7. rikyrah says:

    RT @scATX: Me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me me #WhiteManMarchProtestSigns —[Sooo TRUE :>)]

    – – -☺ ‏@BlkCinemaAtLarg

    – – — -☺@BMcGComedy
    STOP STEALING WHAT WE STOLE! #WhiteManMarchProtestSigns -[LOL]

    — – –☺@MrNorthice
    ‘What do we want? Everything! When do we want it? Oh, wait – WE’VE ALREADY GOT IT!’ #WhiteManMarch #WhiteManMarchProtestSigns

    – – – – -☺@ericwolfson

    Putting The CSA Back In ConServAtive!


    – – -☺ ‏@MarlboroStan
    #WhiteManMarchProtestSigns We are so tired of Black unemployment being twice that of Whites. So we march. — -[LOL –Da STOOPID –It – sooo -BURNS :>)]

    – – -☺@IAmUncleSugar
    #WhiteManMarchProtestSigns inner city white men are lazy too!! [Back-atchu —Lyin’-ryan] LOL]

    Isn’t white entertainment television called FOX? [LOL —SPEAK TRUTH] —


    • rikyrah says:

      I’m not a racist. I have one black friend. #WhiteManMarchProtestSigns

      – – – -☺ ‏@thetrudz
      “If minorities outnumber, how will continue to control every institution where we posses all the assets/power?” #WhiteManMarchProtestSigns

      — – – -☺@Kennymack1971 [Woo! Hoo! :>)]
      I like Allen West and Herman Cain so I can’t be racist! #WhiteManMarchProtestSigns

      – – – -☺ ‏@thehardask

      – — -☺@Katie_Speak
      RT @dijalbert: @brokeymcpoverty CLAPPING SHOULD BE 1 AND 3, THE WHITE MAN WAY! #WhiteManMarchProtestSigns

  8. Ametia says:

    This blog post won’t be shared on Facebook, and I should be worried

Journalism can never be silent: That is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.” — Henry Anatole Grunwald

    That’s a popular quote on journalism from the one-time editor of Time magazine. While today’s journalists are miles from silent, their work loses impact and value when it isn’t widely read. Speaking out isn’t enough when the result is unperceived existence. If a tree falls in a forest and no one posts a video of it on Instagram, did it make a sound?

    Grunwald died in 2005, when Facebook and YouTube were in their infancy and Twitter hadn’t even begun. It’s a radically different world for journalists and media consumers. I just returned from the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, which offered insights into some of our world’s most innovative media companies, and how they ensure that their journalism and content isn’t greeted with silence. Media outlets such as Upworthy and Buzzfeed craft their work to ensure that it is shared on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

  9. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning Everyone.
    I am off to swim and then run errands.

Leave a Reply