“I always love to hear people laugh. I never trust people who don’t laugh … I also like people who love themselves. I don’t trust people who don’t love themselves.” — Maya Angelou
Travels With Maggie
I was asked this week, after I wrote about David Hasselhoff (Feb. 17th blog), who had been my favorite person to interview during my 37 years as a journalist. Without a second’s hesitation, I replied, “Maya Angelou.”
I had the honor of spending an hour with this earthy, acclaimed poet before she gave the 1997 “Familes Alive” address at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. Amazingly, I found this very same speech online at http://tinyurl.com/63tg8eo I suggest, if you have time, that you read it.
Angelou had been 69 at the time, She stood six-feet tall and had an ample body that should have made her look grandmotherly. It didn’t. She oozed confidence, and sexuality in a way I had never seen before. I remember thinking back then that if this what age had in store for me, bring it on.
A huge audience had come to hear Maya speak. I, for one, drank in every word she spoke. Here was a woman who had risen from suffering racial discrimination to reading her poetry before the nation during a presidential inauguration.
Her life is clear evidence for all of us that where we start out in life isn’t where we have to stay.
The newspaper story I wrote from my interview and Angelou’s speech stirred one angry letter, however.
I quoted Anglelou quoting a 1950s’ folk song that had a Black man saying: “The woman I love is fat and chocolate to the bone, and every time she shakes some skinny woman loses her home.” Angelou demonstrated the shaking, and said she loved to make people laugh. And everyone in the audience obliged her.
In response, the letter writer accused me of encouraging discrimination against “skinny women.” I suspected she was a woman who had never laughed at herself. How sad.