WOMEN

Why Maya Angelou Disliked Modesty

FILE - This Nov. 21, 2008 file photo shows poet Maya Angelou smiling in Washington. Angelou, a Renaissance woman and cultural
FILE - This Nov. 21, 2008 file photo shows poet Maya Angelou smiling in Washington. Angelou, a Renaissance woman and cultural pioneer, has died, Wake Forest University said in a statement Wednesday, May 28, 2014. She was 86. Maya Angelou walked into a meeting of civil rights leaders discussing affirmative action, looked around, and put them all in their place with a single observation. “She came into the room,” recalled Al Sharpton, “and she said, ‘The first problem is you don’t have women in here of equal status. We need to correct you before you can correct the country.’” Angelou, who died Wednesday at age 86, will be forever known for her soaring poetry and her searing memoirs. But her impact transcended her written words. She was the nation’s wise woman, a poet to presidents, an unapologetic conscience for the civil rights movement. Never hesitant to speak her mind, Angelou passionately defended women, and literature, and the right of younger generations to be heard. “I've seen many things, I've learned many things,” she told The Associated Press in 2013. “I've certainly been exposed to many things and I've learned something: I owe it to you to tell you."(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

“You may now kiss my cheek,” said Maya Angelou. Her deep voice hung in the air, filling the large dining room inside of her Harlem home.

Stunned, I sat there for a minute. I had never been asked at the end of an interview to kiss someone else’s cheek.

It was October 2008 and I had flown to New York after haggling for months for an interview for an in-flight magazine cover story. Prior to the interview, a set of “communication courtesy” instructions for meeting Angelou were emailed to me, much like a list I imagine boarding schools send out to students for review before making an appearance.

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