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I don’t have a very eloquent tribute this evening for Dr. Maya Angelou. She is the reason I am a writer today - and a voracious reader. I read “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” like so many other young black girls and saw a reflection of myself in a book for the very first time. She is the reason I didn’t think it was nuts for someone who was a “serious” writer to also aspire to write and direct films because she did so. She had unmistakable gravitas, but I always found her just so delightful - and delighted: from reciting Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “A Negro Love Song” on the Arsenio Hall show to dancing joyously with the late, great Amiri Baraka in 1991 as they celebrated Langston Hughes’ birthday. I’m grateful for Dr. Angelou and the life she lived tonight and I hope you will join me in celebrating her by telling me your favorite thing about her - a memory, a poem, a book - in the comments. Photos: On stage in 1954 by G. Paul Bishop. In 1991 with Mr. Baraka at the Schomburg in Harlem by Chester Higgins Jr. for the New York Times and in the late 1950s by G. Marshall Wilson.

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