All Articles Tagged "maya angelou"
Update: The dedication ceremony for Maya Angelou’s stamp took place today, and the Forever Stamp is officially for sale. However, it looks like there’s an issue with the quote. According to The Washington Post, the stamp features a line — “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song” — that was actually written by another author, Joan Walsh Anglund. While Angelou has said the words and they are reminiscent of her famous book I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, she never actually wrote this.
In an email, a US Postal Service spokesperson Mark Saunders told WaPo, “Had we known about this issue beforehand, we would have used one of [Angelou’s] many other works. . . . The sentence held great meaning for her and she is publicly identified with its popularity.”
For her part, Anglund doesn’t seem too upset by the error. But still… sigh.
— U.S. Postal Service (@USPS) April 7, 2015
Will you be getting yours?
Update by Tonya Garcia
Originally posted February 23, 2015
Last Spring, when the beloved Maya Angelou passed, Twitter campaigned for the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to honor the iconic poet with a stamp to immortalize her heart-touching legacy for years to come. Fast forward to the present and Ms. Angelou’s got herself that stamp!
“Stamps have featured people for their notable accomplishments in the arts. They have included American heroes, but one is missing. Maya Angelou was influential in so many ways,” the petition wrote. USPS has responded:
“Maya Angelou inspired our nation through a life of advocacy and through her many contributions to the written and spoken word,” Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan said in a press statement. “Her wide-ranging achievements as a playwright, poet, memoirist, educator, and advocate for justice and equality enhanced our culture.”
This commemoration comes right after the USPS honored MIT’s first African-American graduate, Robert Robinson Taylor, in mid-February. The Black architect and educator was sworn in as USPS’ 38th stamp in the Black Heritage series.
“Over the course of nearly 40 years, Taylor designed dozens of essential buildings, including libraries, dormitories, lecture halls, industrial workshops, and a handsome chapel, transforming a makeshift campus on an abandoned plantation into a confident, state-of-the-art institution,” USPS said of Taylor, who graduated from MIT in 1892.
The stamp, which can be purchased starting from $1.96, features a photograph of a 22-year-old Taylor circa 1880 as a student at MIT.
As for Angelou’s Fovever Stamp, that’s still under wraps; the stamp ceremony will be announced.
Angelou, best known for her I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings memoir, died on May 28, 2014 at the age of 86. Her countless achievements include delivering her On the Pulse of Morning speech at President Clinton’s 1993 inauguration and her Presidential Medal of Freedom award, given to her in 2010 by President Barack Obama.
(And to see more of the 2014 MN Bosses, highlighted in the image above, click here.)
“My Journey With Maya”: Tavis Smiley Turns His 30-Year Friendship With Maya Angelou Into A Stage Play
In having a 30-year-friendship with the late, great Maya Angelou, it’s no surprise that Tavis Smiley has gathered years of legendary inspiration to create a new play in Angelou’s honor called My Journey With Maya, the Associated Press reports.
Smiley, a widely renowned author and political commentator, will be joining forces with Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon to bring Smiley’s cherished experience with Angelou to life on stage. Smiley was 21 when he first met Angelou, author of the acclaimed I Know Why a Caged Bird Sings, in the mid-1980s when she was 58.
“We find our path by walking it,” Angelou told Smiley repeatedly over the years, he recollected. The revered poet, according to Smiley, also told him that “nothing human is alien to me.”
“That was her way of saying, ‘Live your life on your own terms. Don’t be afraid to try anything. Experience everything,'” Smiley said.
The play is based on Smiley’s book, My Journey With Maya, which details Angelou’s profound impact on his life:
“Smiley stumbled into a relationship with her that shaped his future and affected the man he became. Like a mother to him, she was generous, challenging, and inspirational–as she was to so many. Here he shares his portrait of Angelou–a highly complex individual who left an indelible imprint on American culture,” the book description said.
But it wasn’t all roses and sunshine. Smiley notes that there were some rocky moments between him and Angelou, as well. The revered writer, for example, was “alarmed” with Smiley’s sharp comments about Democratic nominee President Barack Obama as he geared up to take his seat in the White House in 2008.
“Smiley said he defended his obligation to hold all candidates up to scrutiny, and his friendship with Angelou remained intact,” AP reports.
Leon, who is currently directing Broadway and TV versions of the 1970s hit musical, The Wiz, can’t wait to get his hands on this stage project:
“I haven’t been this excited by a project in a long, long time,” Leon said. “I don’t think there is another person like her in my lifetime or in the last 100 years of American artistry and literary achievement.”
Knowing her for almost three decades, Smiley is convinced that Angelou that “the greatest renaissance woman in Black America.”
Will you be checking out My Journey With Maya?
Like most people, anytime I come home for the holidays I make it a point to reunite with family and friends. And the conversation that keeps coming up again and again, with these different groups of people, is the one about Michael Brown and Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin and police brutality in general. We’re all hurt and all trying to process what is going on in our country right now.
And on more than one occasion I’ve heard my relatives ask me what really is the point of protesting? What will it change? If these marches don’t lead to legislation are we really just waiting for the imminent moment when something else starts to dominate the news cycle and we all lose interest?
I listened to their concerns and even told them that I had participated in a couple of the marches. One for Trayvon and another for Eric Garner. But I didn’t really know how to answer their question. Ultimately, what purpose does the protesting serve?
I still wouldn’t have had an answer to that question if my father, at my suggestion, had not been watching an “Iconoclast” conversation with Dave Chappelle and the late, great Dr. Maya Angelou.
As Dr. Angelou is sharing stories from her life, talking about her friendships with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, Chappelle states that if he had lived to see two of his dear friends assassinated, he would still be angry with his country and with anyone else who had allowed this to happen. And in a fashion that we all knew and even expected from Dr. Angelou, she explained what she did, and what we should all do, with our inevitable anger.
“If you’re not angry, you’re either a stone or you’re too sick to be angry. You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Let me show you why. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger, yes. You write it, you paint it, you dance it, you march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.
And there was my answer. The funny thing is, I’d known this already. I felt it. After the media announced that the grand jury was not going to indict the officer who strangled Eric Garner to death, I was livid, once again. But worse than that I felt helpless.
People across this nation and our world literally watched the life slip out of Eric Garner’s body and the prosecutor, the grand jury and this country told us that it didn’t matter. Eric’s life didn’t matter and therefore we, Black people, didn’t matter. I talked my anger quite a bit after that announcement. And then I marched it. Then I talked it again with the people I interviewed, who were just as angry as I was, people so angry they cried. I watched a mother, who had just done some Christmas shopping, try to explain to her young son why they needed to be out in the cold, walking with the crowd of screaming people.
At the end of the night, after walking over 100 blocks, disrupting the flow of traffic, screaming for justice, holding my hands up like Michael Brown, and repeating Eric Garner’s dying words, I went home feeling a bit less livid and a lot less helpless.
Weeks after the Eric Garner decision, I watched an advanced screening of Selma and saw, firsthand, just how effective marching and protesting had been in the past and could be today. The film couldn’t be more any more timely as we find ourselves in the trenches of yet another Civil Rights battle. And I was encouraged. Protesting sends a message stronger than we may realize and even provides some relief for our own personal and collective pain. Plus the country and the world is watching.
I don’t know what will ultimately be the result of all of this protesting. I don’t know how many more people of color will die at the hands of the police officers who go unpunished before someone decides to enact some type of (preferably federal) legislation. But what I do know, thanks to my own spirit and Dr. Angelou’s words, is that there is value and even healing in letting the world and yourself know that you are indeed angry.
So I finally watched OWN’s premiere of Dr. Maya Angelou new music video for “Harlem Hopscotch” and it got me seriously wondering to Sal, “how come you ain’t got no brothers up on the wall here?”
If you haven’t seen the video, you can check it out above. In fact, I implore you to watch it first, before continuing this essay. If the name of the song and lyrics sounds familiar, the song is really a re-conceptualized version of Dr. Angelou’s 1969 poem of the same name. According to BET.com, the song is the first single from Dr. Angelou’s posthumous 13-track album called Caged Bird Songs, which was released last month. The album, which was produced by both her estate and RoccStar and Shawn Rivera (formally of the group AZ Yet), features Dr. Angelou’s vocals and poems over pop and other contemporary beats.
Rolling Stone wrote a brief article about its release in October and included a free listen of album, if you’re interested. Apparently the album was a dear project of the late poet, writer, dancer and activist. And as quoted in the Rolling Stone article, Dr. Angelou said of the importance of the album: “It’s woven into the tapestry of our lives, and we’re being serious and giving and kind about it. So obviously, it’s going somewhere. And we have to release it to go there.”
According to the BET.com article, the video, which was directed by Emmy Award-winning duo Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo and premiered on Oprah.com the Tuesday before Christmas, is said to use “dance to interpret Dr. Angelou’s inspirational poem about persevering through life’s challenges.” But in spite of its aim, it’s actually hard to see how video actually corresponds with the poem itself. For one, while it is true that some parts of the video were filmed in Harlem, New York, particularly the beginning; the rest of the video takes places in other locations far outside of the track’s namesake, like Hollywood and Los Angeles.
In fact, we would be hard pressed to see any bit of “Harlem” in this video. I mean, it is there, but sparsely and it looks a lot like the newly gentrified Harlem with the high rents and higher incomes than the one Dr. Angelou wanted us to know about in 1969. In fact, the main focus of the video is a bunch of smiling faced, happy feet celebrities, including Alfonso Ribeiro, Zendaya and one of the dance crews from So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Best Dance Crew, who dance along side of chorus line of mostly smiling White faces in the streets of Hollywood.
Now granted, I can appreciate the fact that lots of people of various colors and ethnicities also appreciated Dr. Angelou’s work. And I can also understand that the Phenomenal Woman belongs to us all. But that’s the thing: there is a difference between appreciation and straight up white-washing over the woman’s work in order to not offend some folks’ sensibilities. White folks’ sensibilities. And for that reason, I kind of have a huge problem with this music video.
For more clarity, let’s look at the poems stanzas:
One foot down, then hop! It’s hot.
Good things for the ones that’s got.
Another jump, now to the left.
Everybody for hisself.
In the air, now both feet down.
Since you black, don’t stick around.
Food is gone, the rent is due,
Curse and cry and then jump two.
All the people out of work,
Hold for three, then twist and jerk.
Cross the line, they count you out.
That’s what hopping’s all about.
Both feet flat, the game is done.
They think I lost, I think I won.
Without previous knowledge of the “Harlem Hopscotch” poem, it would be easy to conclude all sort of whimsical irrelevancy to the current “Harlem Hopscotch” song. The danceable beat and upbeat tempo of the song does help sell the theme. And in fact, the music video does a good job of playing up the whimsy angle of a game of hopscotch without any mention of the poem-now-song’s deeper meaning. To be even clearer: the poem/song is actually about poverty – Black poverty to be more exact.
A good and simple analysis of the poem comes courtesy of this blog post, which writes in part:
“Harlem Hopscotch” adds a whole different meaning behind the actual game of hopscotch, being that fact that this game is being played in a community full of poverty. Usually when one plays a game, in this case hopscotch, it can almost always be associated with fun. However, in this scenario the game is to teach the children a lesson of the rough times in life, letting them know not to expect good things. Comparing poverty and struggle to a game of hopscotch emphasizes the real meaning of poverty in the sense that a game of hopscotch is looked at with complete innocence, according to Sparknotes.com. Racism is tied into the poem because of the fact that the game the children are playing takes place in an extremely poor black community, Harlem. “Since you black, don’t stick around”, line 6 from the poem, exemplifies racism because the whole point of the game is to move forward, and this line commands the question of who should move or not. There are many different ways to interpret the theme, and many different ways to state what the theme is. The overall theme that is clearly expressed is childhood poverty, struggle, wealth, work and leisure in the African American culture.”
All of which is not featured in the video.
And I get it: poverty is depressing. I mean, who really wants to watch a video of some sad-face poverty stricken Black kids, playing chalk hopscotch in the age of Playstations and iPads? Nobody. I don’t even believe Dr. Angelou intended that with the poem when it was drafted in 1969 – at likely the height of poverty in Harlem. But when the alternative is to create visuals of a multi-racial bunch of celebrities as well as random White people dancing in streets, which are not Harlem, we kind of gloss over what Dr. Angelou really wanted us to pay attention to in the poem.
And intentions matter. No one convinced us of that more than Dr. Angelou herself, who a few years before her passing, publicly denounced the Dr. Martin King Jr. Memorial for how the statue’s inscription misrepresented the civil rights leader’s words for the purpose of brevity and space. In many respects the washing over the poem and now song’s theme is guilty of that same misrepresentation.
Unlike what the description for the video would have you believe, this was not an inspirational poem “about persevering through life’s challenges,” but rather this was an inspirational poem about Black people preserving through poverty and racism. And as good stewards of Dr. Angelou’s legacy, intention as well as the issue of Black poverty and racism in general, we should not allow those themes to be written out of the narrative.
Since her start with Destiny’s Child, Beyonce has amassed a legion of fans who cheer her on at every move. She’s also inspired a lot of people to channel their inner Sasha Fierce and impersonate the “Bootylicious” singer. Here are some of the best and funniest Beyonce impersonations.
Maya Rudolph Talks About Elevator Beat Down
When the public got its hands on the now infamous video of Solange physically attacking Jay Z in an elevator while her big sister Beyonce silently watched, we all knew an “SNL” parody was right around the corner. Show regulars Sasheer Zemanta and Jay Pharoahe played the younger sister and the Brooklyn rapper respectively but when Maya Rudolph walked on as the R&B diva, she stole the show.
As we reported earlier, Dr. Maya Angelou’s memorial service was held this past Saturday at the Wait Chapel on the campus of Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where Dr. Angelou taught for more than 33 years and served as Reynolds Professor of American Studies from 1982 until her death.
First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah, Cicely Tyson, Andrew Young, President Bill Clinton and many others attended the ceremony, which was private but live streamed for the public, to pay their respects to the poet, teacher, author, dancer and all around phenomenal woman. Bebe Winans also sang during the service.
The highlight of the day, for many, came when Mrs. Obama delivered a very moving and inspiring speech that spoke frankly and eloquently about Maya Angelou’s words helping to carry her from a little black girl in Chicago to the White House. And she credited Dr. Angelou for being one of the forces that encouraged her during the campaign trail when her own black womanhood was examined and dissected. She spoke about how Dr. Angelou’s achievement was not just her’s alone but one in which all black women can share.
If you don’t have time to watch the whole ceremony, which you can do in the video below but if you want to read Mrs. Obama’s speech, you can read the entire transcript on the next page.
First Lady Michelle Obama will be among several speakers scheduled to deliver remarks at Dr. Maya Angelou’s private memorial service this weekend, The Washington Post reports.
The service is set to take place Saturday at Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Although the service will be closed to the public, Wake Forest has plans to stream it online. Her relationship with the Obamas dates back to 2008 during the POTUS’ first presidential campaign. Dr. Angelou, who was initially a supporter of Hillary Clinton, endorsed President Obama once Hillary dropped out of the race.
“When her friend Nelson Mandela passed away last year, Maya Angelou wrote that ‘No sun outlasts its sunset, but will rise again, and bring the dawn,” President Obama said in a statement regarding Dr. Angelou’s passing.
Today, Michelle and I join millions around the world in remembering one of the brightest lights of our time – a brilliant writer, a fierce friend, and a truly phenomenal woman. Over the course of her remarkable life, Maya was many things – an author, poet, civil rights activist, playwright, actress, director, composer, singer and dancer. But above all, she was a storyteller – and her greatest stories were true. A childhood of suffering and abuse actually drove her to stop speaking – but the voice she found helped generations of Americans find their rainbow amidst the clouds, and inspired the rest of us to be our best selves. In fact, she inspired my own mother to name my sister Maya.
Like so many others, Michelle and I will always cherish the time we were privileged to spend with Maya. With a kind word and a strong embrace, she had the ability to remind us that we are all God’s children; that we all have something to offer. And while Maya’s day may be done, we take comfort in knowing that her song will continue, “flung up to heaven” – and we celebrate the dawn that Maya Angelou helped bring.”
As previously reported, the esteemed writer and poet passed away last week in her Winston Salem home.
After living an inspirational life and leaving her mark on this world, renowned poet and author, Maya Angelou, will be laid to rest this upcoming Saturday in North Carolina. She passed away last Wednesday.
According to People, her family will be having a private memorial service for Angelou at Wake Forest University’s Wait Chapel. Because the Wait Chapel is small (2,550 seats according to TheGrio), the service will be for friends and family only. However, those who want to be able to tune in and pay their respects will be able to stream the service online at the University website. The funeral will start at 10 a.m. EDT and looks to be over around 12:30. Oprah Winfrey has stated that she plans to speak during the service this weekend. And there were reports that the Westboro Baptist Church wanted to protest Angelou’s funeral, but we’re going to hope that they won’t make an appearance.
Angelou passed last Wednesday at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Her connection to Wake Forest is that she taught at the school for more than 30 years, and even had a class planned for the fall: Race Culture and Gender in the U.S. South and Beyond. Before teaching there, Angelou was given an honorary degree from the University in 1977.
According to the school’s website, there will be more celebrations taking place in cities across the country. That information is to be announced by her son, Guy Johnson, at a later time.
Beauty is in the eye of the holder and for these celebs who have jungle fever, they see no color when it comes to dating someone outside of their race.
Perhaps best known as magneto in the blockbuster franchise X-Men, Michael Fassbender knew he wanted to be an actor since he was 17 years old. His first role came in the television miniseries “Band of Brothers.” The German-Irish actor has been romantically linked to actress Nicole Baharie and Leasi Andrews. He also dated Zoe Kravitz for several years. Recently rumors were sparked last month when the 12 Years a Slave actor was spotted hugging and kissing supermodel Naomi Campbell while dining at a London restaurant.
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The controversial Westboro Baptist Church, popularly known for their outlandish attempts to protest celebrity funerals and LGBT events, have set their sights on the homegoing ceremony for Dr. Maya Angelou.
As we told you earlier this week, the beloved poet, writer and speaker passed away Wednesday due to apparent health complications. Members of the “ministry” made it clear that they have big plans to protest at Dr. Angelou’s funeral due to her long-lived messages of inclusion and acceptance of everyone.
— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSays) May 29, 2014
Plans for Maya’s funeral have not be disclosed as of yet, and it’s currently unclear if it will be open to the public. WBC’s behavior isn’t exactly surprising, but it is very sad that they continue to carry out such hurtful actions, while claiming to do them in an attempt to spread the Gospel.