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Web Exclusive: Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou 1928-2014

Maya Angelou Poetry Reading
Wednesday at 5:00 pm on WFMT

Studs Terkel interviews Maya Angelou
Friday at 10:00 pm on WFMT

In this historic interview with WFMT’s Studs Terkel, Maya Angelou discusses her first encounter with racism – and how she resisted it – as a girl of 15:

Perhaps the expression Renaissance man (or woman) is overused; it dilutes the impact of those who truly earn that designation: Maya Angelou was one.

At the time of her passing on Wednesday morning, 86-year-old Maya Angelou was professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. Early in her career, she worked as a dancer with Alvin Ailey. Her first album as a singer was devoted to calypso. As an actor, she performed on Broadway and in film. A friend of Martin Luther King, Jr. and of Malcolm X, Maya Angelou helped found the Organization of Afro-American Unity. With little prior experience, she wrote, produced, and hosted a 10-part documentary on the blues. She wrote plays and film scores; She directed for stage and screen. She won three Grammy Awards for her spoken word recordings of her own prose and poetry.

Starting with the first of six autobiographies, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings published in 1969, Maya Angelou became a keen and highly regarded commentator on womanhood, sexism, racism, and society. In a world that likes its labels and categories, Ms. Angelou had many occupations, though it all came from a singularly compassionate, and altruistic energy which focused on one thing: elevating the human spirit. Maya Angelou was honored with the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.


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