Maya Angelou

Monday, November 24, 2008

Poet-activist Maya Angelou, author of Letter to My Daughter (Random House, 2008), on the significance of the Obama presidency and more.


Maya Angelou

Comments [8]

mc from Brooklyn

I disagree that they were the same. Barack Obama's health plan was far less comprehensive and not as well thought out. Since he won the election I notece that he has come over more and more to her positions and I am glad about that. He voted to limit plaintiff's access to state courts, she voted against that. He voted not to repeal the 1847 mining act, she voted for it. Her position on the economy generally were to the left of his and more in tune with many who were actually paying attention. During the debates he often looked like a C student cribbing of the A student's answer sheet, not nearly as fluent as she.

It is unfair to say you can't extract Maya Angelou from the racial context. With her accomplishments and extensive resume, which goes way beyond poetry, she has earned the right to support whomever she deems the stronger candidate.

Many people voted on symbolism and as you say " and executive style for a new age." This is as yet undefined for me. I preferred to make my choice on concrete issues. Don't dismiss my reasons or Angelou's and I won't dismiss yours.

Nov. 24 2008 04:16 PM
Mayo from Brooklyn

On paper, the two candidates were the same, with differences not worth mentioning. Decisions were being made on other factors.

For example, the incredible contingent of women who were vowing not to vote for Obama because it was not "his turn"... The same who took out a huge, expensive ad in a major urban newspaper saying the same. That's something worth exploring.

Most of America (including Republicans and every other racial group) saw Obama as the superior candidate with an executive style fit for a new age. You would be pressed to enumerate, in this space, the platform issues that Maya Angelou found Clinton had a firmer grasp of.

You can't extract Maya Angelou from the racial context. Without the racial context, she wouldn't be a mentionable. Her stardom is borne out of the civil rights conflict. The end of her path would culminate in a vote for Barack Obama.

I am sure that the gay gentleman here would not be so dismissive of criticism of a gay leader who ignored a vote that would propel his people to a level of equality. I'm sure that a well-known gay leader's vote for civil unions would not go over so well for him.

Nov. 24 2008 02:59 PM
Peter from Sunset Park


You write that Angelou "had a responsibility to vote for Barack Obama." Wow, this is pretty shocking. African Americans endured much pain for the right to vote. Now you want to take that away? Frankly, I find that very sad and even disturbing.

The right to vote for the persons of your choice is the American way.

Thank you Ms. Angelou for having the courage to stand up to those who dismiss you as an uncle tom.

Nov. 24 2008 12:13 PM
mc from Brooklyn


Maybe she agreed with Clinton on the issues. It's not always about symbolism.

Nov. 24 2008 12:04 PM
Mayo from Brooklyn

You are reopening an already resolved distraction. To recap the rebuttal highlights: Jesse Jackson's run didn't inspire as did this. Neither did Michael Steele's, nor Allen Keyes'... This was not simply a black vote - blacks only intensely reflected what white America and the world demonstrated.

Unfortunately white America has ALWAYS voted and acted by race (that is simply a statement of fact) - that is, until now. Maya Angelou owes her fame and stature to the movement for equalization. She, above all others, had a responsibility to vote for Barack Obama who was not just a black candidate, but an immensely capable person. When you prop yourself as a leader in a movement, you lose your legitimacy when your actions are counter to the objectives of your movement.

Stated another way, a person who owes their public and private position to the women's movement would be reasonably expected to vote for a very qualified female candidate if that very qualified person were to arrive.

This is the definition of being involved in movements for very particular changes in a society. Forwarding that interest when someone who passes a high bar arrives is what's called being a proponent of what you stand for (sarcastically reflexive). Maya Angelou put her personal relationship with the Clintons ahead of the goal of the movement that brought her name to soaring heights.

Nov. 24 2008 11:55 AM
Peter from Sunset Park


Are you actually suggesting that black Americans should only vote for the candidate who is black? Wouldn’t it be racism if white Americans always voted white when given the chance? Does being black come before being a woman?

Hillary Clinton is a great American and was married to a great president. Even though I would have probably voted for McCain in the general election if she were nominated, there is NO SHAME in supporting Hillary Clinton.

I applaud Ms. Angelou for having the courage to pick her candidate on more then just skin color. Good for her.

Nov. 24 2008 11:05 AM
Mayo from Brooklyn

Maya Angelou has lost her relevance. As a voice in the movement to equalize the black voice and presence in America, she found herself on the wrong side of history by supporting Hillary Clinton. She will perpetually gloss over that glaring contradiction between her historical importance and her actions.

Nov. 24 2008 10:58 AM
Peter from Sunset Park

The LA Times recently quoted Ms. Angelou as being proud that so many diverse Americans, including gays and lesbians, voted for Obama.

The link is:

Brian, can you please ask Ms. Angelou what she thinks of President-Elect Obama thanking the gay community by, of all things, opposing gay marriage. Does Ms. Angelou agree that the first African American president is correct in promoting apartheid against gays and lesbians? Or does Ms. Angelou believe, as I do, that no Americans (gay, black or other) should be forced to sit at the back of the bus? Does Ms. Angelou agree with Obama that one’s religious beliefs should determine the president’s policy on gay marriage and human rights?

As always, thank you.

Nov. 24 2008 10:06 AM

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