Now, i was eight, and very small, and she was no whit bigger. And so, i smiled, but she stuck out. Her tongue, and called me nigger, nigger, nigger. I saw the whole of Baltimore. From may until December. And of all the things that happened there, thats all that I remember. How can young people keep their sense of self-worth and not give in to anger or self-destructiveness when theyre confronted with hatred or even violence?
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I knew that if I was blonde and white-skinned, it wouldnt happen. It happened to me, maya, who was black. When youve had that childhood experience of discrimination, how do you get past it? How do you get rid of it? Maya angelou: The truth is, you cannot get rid. What you can do is put positive things in there along with the negative. But its a given that you will remember that the rest of your life. There is a poem. It was written by countee cullen. Once, riding in old Baltimore, head filled, heart filled with glee, i saw a baltimorean keep looking straight.
And my brother, hes always been the genius in my family. My family came closest to making a genius when they made my brother. He was a year and a half older than. He told me they were stupid, report they were ignorant, they were foolish. I agreed with all that, because i knew he was smart, he would know, but it didnt diminish the hurt. Did you take it personally? Did you know it was because you were African American? Maya angelou: Yes, but thats personally.
And all because i was surgery black. And I thought, well, i dont think Ill be going to the movies a lot. So i decided to boycott the movies. . That was the first time i can remember, and I must have been about eight or nine. But mostly, we lived on the black side of town, and we didnt see other people very much. What did you do with the sense of insult at the age of eight? Maya angelou: I cried a lot.
And the girl took my dime, and she wouldnt put her hand. I put it down. She had a cigar box, and she took a card and raked my dime into the cigar box. Now, the white kids got tickets. She took their money, and she gave them little stubs. She didnt give us anything. She just motioned, which meant that we had to go up the side steps, outside steps, and crawl through a really crummy little door, and sit perched on these three or four benches to watch the movie.
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It is impossible to struggle for civil rights, equal rights for blacks, without including whites. Because equal rights, fair play, justice, are all like the air; we all have it or none of us has. That is the truth. Was there a first time that was more salient than others, when you first realized that the world was going to treat you differently, as part of a group? Maya angelou: I was very young, in that little village in Arkansas, and there was a movie house downtown. Downtown consisted of one paved street. There was a movie house, and the girl who worked selling tickets lived on land my grandmother owned.
And i knew for a fact that she and her family hadnt paid any rent for three years. They lived behind the town, on our land. I went up to get a ticket. I may have been about eight or nine. My grandmother was very religious and didnt believe in the movies, but once she allowed me and my brother — every now and again. We went up to get a ticket.
So it seems to me, that is my calling. And I write about it for all of us, because i know that human beings are more alike than we are unalike. How old were you when you finally realized your talents? Maya angelou: I still have not realized my talents. . I believe that each of us comes from the Creator trailing wisps of glory.
So at this wonderful, young age of 65, i dont know yet what the lord has for me. I try to live up to the energy and to the calling, but I wouldnt dare say i have even scratched the surface yet. Did you experience racial discrimination growing up? Have you ever been discriminated against or mistreated because of your color? Maya angelou: Yes, i have. A black person grows up in this country — and in many places — knowing that racism will be as familiar as salt to the tongue. Also, it can be as dangerous as too much salt. I think that you must struggle for betterment for yourself and for everyone.
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Maya angelou: I was a mute from the time i was seven and a half until I was almost. I had voice, but I refused to use. My grandmother, ions who was raising me in a little village in Arkansas, used to tell me, sister, mamma dont care about what these people say: you must be an idiot, you must be a moron. Mamma dont care, sister. Mamma know, when you and the good Lord get ready, youre gonna be a preacher. Well, i used to sit and think to myself, poor, ignorant mamma. I will never speak, let alone preach. It has devolved upon me to — not preach, as it were — but to write about morals, about hope, about desolation, about pain and ecstasy and joy and triumph in the human spirit.
In truth, the ways in which your character is built have to do with all three of those. Those around you, those you choose and those who choose you. Let me add this, too, i am a very religious person, so it is the presence of God, the constant unwavering, unrelenting presence of God which continues to help me to keep a character which i am proud to show to young men and women. And I will be, i hope, not too ashamed to meet my maker in the final move. King the person who had the greatest influence on you? Maya angelou: he was one of those persons, certainly, but my sister, my grandmother and uncle who raised me, who taught me, by their actions, that it was good to be good, that it was nice essay to be nice, influenced me more than any other. My family and the family friends continue to inform me that the character I have become will reflect the characters I have been around. Were you always aware of your own talents? As a girl, you were silent for so many years.
with Malcolm X has been very important. Being friends with. Johnnetta cole has been very important. The sisters and brothers that you meet give you the materials which your character uses to build itself. It is said that some people are born great, others achieve it, some have it thrust upon them.
In another, you may have essay to tell a joke. In another, you may have to sing some long, lonesome blues. But you should be able to change that; be intelligent enough to know where to put what, so that you dont try to swim on the stove. That is it, and you dont try to tap dance in the swimming pool. So then, when you have the substance, you decide what style shall I deliver this? In which style shall I deliver this? Shall I be quiet and put my hand on my cheek and act as if i am deep? Or shall I tell a joke or shall I make myself a buddy to someone in order to get my substance over? Your work with.
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Youve spoken about the music and the content of the i have a dream speech as two different things to emulate. How do you see the relation of style and substance in rhetoric, or in writing? Maya angelou: The substance is the issue which nashville most moves you. If it is a love for civil rights, then that is the substance. How you get it over — you should be able to change style the same way you change your jackets. That is to say, in one circumstance, you might need to preach. In another circumstance, to get your idea over.