At the time of Maya Angelou’s death, May 28, 2014, she was participating in the first feature documentary about her life for the American Masters series, Maya Angelou: The People’s Poet. Co-directors/producers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack last interviewed Dr. Angelou this past January and production on the film continues. American Masters looks forward to her taking her rightful place in the series, albeit posthumously.
An eloquent poet, writer and performer, Maya Angelou’s life intersected with the civil rights struggle, the Harlem Writers Guild, the New Africa movement, the women’s movement, and the cultural and political realignments of the 1970s and '80s. Her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, catapulted Dr. Angelou onto the literary stage and became an international best-seller. She appeared in numerous documentaries, talk shows and feature films, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, yet shockingly, has never been the subject of her own feature documentary.
Having lived such a rich, passionate life and been a witness, as well as a participant, in some of the most profound periods of the last century, her full biography is extraordinarily rich and varied. Dr. Angelou lived not one life, but half a dozen, and yet parts of her story have fallen into obscurity.
American Masters — Maya Angelou: The People’s Poet reflects on how the events of history, culture and the arts shaped her life and how she, in turn, helped shape our own worldview through her autobiographical literature and activism. A co-production of Media Process Group and ITVS in association with THIRTEEN Productions LLC’s American Masters for WNET. Originally posted on PBS American Masters.
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