« Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations

Dr. Maya Angelou, Part 1: 9 Words That Changed Her Life

2018-01-22 | 🔗

In the first of a special two-part podcast, Oprah has a conversation with her beloved mentor, the late poet, author, icon and activist Dr. Maya Angelou. She's also the woman Oprah called her mother, sister and friend for more than 30 years. Oprah says, "She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life. The world knows her as a poet, but at the heart of her, she was a teacher." Dr. Angelou discusses her last book, "Mom & Me & Mom," delving into one of the deepest personal stories of her life: her relationship with her mother. Dr. Angelou shares intimate memories of her childhood, including the nine words her nurturing yet fiery mother said to her that changed her life forever, challenging her to find strength in the face of adversity.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I'm over Winfrey welcome to supersede conversations the podcast. I believe that one of the most valuable gives you can give yourself is time taking time to be more fully present your journey to become more inspired and connected to the deeper the round. Us start right now. My angel has been a writer dancer, singer artist, professor director, an activist she's travel. World, speaks seven languages and as one of the world's greatest poets. But to me she, My mother sister friend, as I call her the woman I've looked too fast. Grant an inspiration for more than thirty five years now my Angela was born in Saint Louis and nineteen. Twenty eight by the time She was seven she'd already suffered or life changing event. She was raped by her mothers boyfriend. My I told her foot,
Emily what has happened and when the man was later found murdered. She believed in her seven euro mine that it was all her fault, convinced at her words, have the power to kill. Young Maya didn't speak another word for several years: retreating into a private world populated with books in poetry. In fact, it was poetry that helped her father. And her voice again ass. She learned from one of her teachers that great poetry must be spoken and speak. She did by a grew into a confident, an accomplished force of nature, as the dull. She became a fierce civil rights activist working closely with both Malcolm X and doktor. Martin Luther King Jr, her seminal autobiography. I know why the cage bird sings public International acclaim was name Time magazine to be one of the one hundred best nonfiction books of old time, and she just
finished your latest piece of work and inspiration sharing some of the deepest personal stories of her life in mom and me and mom she's, given motherly it eyes, two millions and is certainly, as I have said many times like a mother to me, What we ve known each other for so long now. I actually do feel like your daughter, you are my dad? I am your guest man, yes, and you are my mother. Yes, and now you are my sister USA and have been a friend there from the very full today we met- and you know when I first met you and asked. If I could do that, interview with you so many go, I had just think how great God is because at that moment I was allowed myself to be vulnerable enough to take the risk of being turned down by you think I was in my early twentieth, bear if many early
ass, yes, but when you said that Angie I said no, I M Fraid, I'm afraid I can't really. I thank you, but I am going to be speaking. You said, if you will give me five minutes. I promise you. I will always spent five minutes. So I said all right right because of your persistence and you had good questions. You listen to my answers and you had another good question and then you said thank you so much stacked Angelo. I appreciated and good by a man. That May of his exactly five minutes. I ask you: what did you say your name? I tell me first, again. Yes, you literally said my memory usage. Who are, Yes,. In my Angelos latest book. She shares the deepest personal story of her life, the relation with her mother Vivian Baxter, a former
Sue ran her own gambling club poor Hall in Boarding House Vivian Baxter. Could is fiery as she was nurturing, their relationship, like a lot of other daughters, was powerful but complicated. When seven year old, Maya, stop speaking Vivian Maya and her brother Bailey away to live with their grandmother and rural stamps Arkansas. Then, when I turn thirteen Vivian CALL Maya and Bailey Home to San Francisco at that time. My began to truly got to know her mother, independent energetic shrewd and gutsy Vivian Baxter with some one to be reckoned with. Written a new, no ma am and me and mom, and we're gonna talk a lot about that today, because I know what Vivian Baxter meant in your life.
And you say that your mother's love encourage you to live your life with with possess youth? Would you say that you ve had a life filled with position? You have such a long list of achievements as we were compiling them. You were the first black Street car conductor in the city of San Francisco, fixed being you were sixty years of a black fish being an m had the nerve to want I saw women on the street ties with them in change belts. We know that and they have caps with. Builds on them and they had farm fitting jacket you like to unify loved the unit, so I said that job and and dignity, hired a black prosaic member know. So did you see that as the accomplishment that it
was at the time no, my mother, dear because mother, I say it out. I went down to pay some application and they wouldn't even give it to me, and so I went back to my mother negative. They they one wouldn't even allow me to apply. She asked me: why do you know why, as he gets because I'm a negro, she said yes do you want the job ass, a gift, you said, go get it here. I give you money every day you go down, be there before the Secretariat get there. You sit there in off its. You read one of your big thick russian books. I was reading TAT story of Ski Tolstoy set me up at that she said and then, when they go to lunch, then you go go to a good restaurant. You know how to order good food go back before the secretaries, get that I did all of this and then sit there until they leave they lasted me. They push up and lips and use some negative racial.
In them, but I said the accepts it, he has but look at me here s the thing I sat there because I was afraid to go home I was afraid to tell my mother than ever this as strong. You thought I was last. I sat there for two weeks every day and then after two weeks, a man came out of his office, is a man and he asked Why do you want the damn? That's it I like the uniform, I think I like people, and so I got the job amazing. What's amazing is a story that you tell him nominee your mother, knowing that you a sixteen year old on the street cars and that she followed you in my view, the story about four o clock in the morning
She wake me up with my bad ready, John I'd take a bath put on my uniform and she would drag me out to the beach and she ETA pistol on the seat of the car, and she would follow this street car all the way from the beach down to the fairy building right through San Francisco and back again at the beach until daybreak, I mean stick close to that. Nobody get on that. She didn't see. And then at six thirty I said ass. Your mother gave him mother, that's a mother. She was really all of that and she asked me much isn't that what did you learn from a job because when, when it was time for me to go back to school and went back to school
I said I learn that I don't like to work. She said what else did you know? I said I don't know she said about yourself. You learn that you are very strong determination while dedication and you can go anywhere in the world anyway. I've gone everywhere in the world. So as we list all of your achievements, the first black Street car conductor, dancer singer, poet, playwright film producer, director actor. Civil rights activist, professor of american studies, and wake Forest university recipient of more than seventy honorary doctorate degrees and author of more than thirty books. Is there anything you wanted to have on that list, but didn't get a chance to do. One of the things I wanted was to have a daughter. I haven't son, who is my heart? Wonderful, the young man
wonderful person who good human being daring and loving and strong, In time I wanted a daughter Emma taken people's daughters. I have certainly taken new. I took my daughter in law because I know I'm a dead mother. I care- and I dare I care enough to let you go that their enough to follow you. I will say that too Say you know, one of my part of my nature is to be obeyed, yet I will be to God to call and over the years when I would call you for advice, sometimes I would take it would often I would take it was often I took it right near things. Sometimes I didn't, but you ve never been the kind of mother says I told you so so when I didn't take it and stake inevitably happening. You are not the kind of mother come back.
I told you but do the candidate is it. I was wrong. I was wrong I should at least I should like. First of all, have you ever tried and failed at something give many times many times. You forgive yourself for every failure. Yes, because you trying to do the right. They died knows that and you know it. Nobody else may know it yeah, because one of this great lessons that I've learned from you so so interesting, I was just interviewing Sissy Houston and she she recited to me what I have learned from you and I have now decided to other people. So now it's coming back to me and she said well, you know when you know better, you do bet the ticket, that's the tick and adds and that's why you
give yourself makers? Have you known better, Adam Doug, bad? Yes, of course this forgive it I mean man. Do we as the creator? Yes to forgive yes, stupid is action, yes, cruel is mean mean yes mean I did thing and they God forgive me. Forgive me or people say I'm not perfect. Yet this is so then you forgive. And it if we leaves you. You are relieved of carrying that burden of resentment. You ve really are lighter. You feel lighter. You does gap that I know you often say: love liberates us, but actually forgiveness does also. Is the redemption UK forgive without loving yes- and I don't mean sentimentality, I mean much,
having enough courage to stamp out and say every give I'm finished with is yes, so The presidential battle of freedom is the highest civilian honour. Any one person can receive in our country. What were you thinking when you were sitting there in the President place that metal around your? I thought of man. Emma I thought of my mother, my brother. Grandma women, stop talking. My grandmother said to me sister, my father's mother. She at such a moment people say You must be an idiot, you must be a Moura, so you came up just a Mamma dont care mama. No, when you emitted light, get ready, you can be a teacher. So do you gonna teach all over. This were to ban think this plague meant moment. Then she knew I would never speak, and I teach all over the world
She also told me sister, when you get give when you learn teach until when this incredible metal of freedom was given to me, I've thought of all the Africans who were brought to this country longing for freedom. Coming on and my man wishing for a dream, I thought of the Jews. I thought the Arabs at that people coming from Ireland when the potato blighted absolutely wiped out Ireland, I thought of all the people who came looking for freedom. I was so overcome opera. The truth is, if I had been asked to speak, I couldn't speak at that time. I thought of all those people, the EL asylum, all those people in Virginia looked out of the sky
if shipped in Jamestown Asians, coming to this country, building the railroads and eighteen fifty I'm able legal to bring their mates for decades. I was so bill that when I was taken out of bed room, I saw in ready do when you left that room? Yes, Madame at the White House at the White House sobbed and ready to thank God, I've, thank God, I myself and I thank God for web believed them given to live, and I thank gather back and see and hear- and male and eat them? I thank God for friends and lovers and beloved, and I think that for
This is one of my favorite lessons. These words originally came from my dear friend the novelist James Baldwin. These words are sacred to me. Your ground has been bought and pay for all you have to do is put it on your head. It's remind you have to do is put it on your head. It's reminder that you already have the power you already have, which need, because of those who pay the way and came before you leave. Where you been Pedro, yes, but people who never even tone your face, didn't know what What have they paid for you already, and so it me it behoves you then to prepare yourself. So you can pay for someone else. At the time whose name you'll never know face. You will never see amazing, you just keep it.
The good thing you pave the way yes may or other people to first of all see themselves different use. Man, yes, and it all started with. I know why the cage per se enter and time magazine just recently named. I know why the cage four things as one of the one hundred best nonfiction books of all time, a blessing in the history of books for many of us, certainly for May. I know why the cage bird sings was my introduction, my first income, with you, as I have often shared on the Oprah show in anytime. I was talking about how I met you. It's it's. The first page is the opening pay each yet, which you lookin at me for
I've been come to stay. I didn't come to stay. Only came you say happy Eastern day it was the first time I as a negro girl. We recall negroes at the time, had ever read about somebody else's life who so closely resembled my own. You were raised by your ram other. I was raised from it. Mother, you grew up in the church, reciting Easter pieces and Christmas, because it is an honour that life, so for the first time ever, being a book and I loved reading as a child, but it's the first time I ever felt validated and I felt like someone knows,
me, you knows who I am, and I think that's, what all of your books do, and particularly now, as I'm reading the story about you and your mother, there's something about the stories of your life that resonate with the stories of all of our lives. Is that why you wrote it we have? I don't know if that's why that one of the five One of the wise is because I can write and writers right and writers right also because I'm women see my mother a little apart from me, so that I could really love her life and am once you you love. Somebody's life means you understand their lines. Yet
and so you can understand why a person does a certain, because you say in the book and use of heard. You say before about her that she was not a good mother of young children. She was terrible terrible for young people and my mother explained to me once I asked her to never tell it again. She said when I was about two years old, two or three years old that chip I had asked for something, and she didn't give it to me
my head slapped her honor leg and I was we were sitting on the porch and she back and they meet while the porch into the dirt. She said, and I didn't have what was necessary- far fetched a young mother. I didn't have there, but this moment was the greatest mother of a young adults in edible just fantastic. She told me once when I was twenty two who walking down the street and she said baby seven minute and I stopped she said you know I think you're, the greatest woman I've ever met. I was twenty two years old and I look them at this moment. People tall lady, Gaga, maimed late and also she owned
tales in things in, and people admired her in some are frightened of her. Rightly she said Mary Mccloy Bitten, Eleanor Roosevelt and my mother. You in that category give me a kiss and she kissed me old man, lives and limb across the street. To get America mapped out. You know suppose she is right. I suppose I really am going to be somebody. Maybe I should stop smoking and stopped king and stop cursing well, I did step cursing still down real Really it is rare maybe use it
fame word very where I have to ask you use put out so much art in the world. What part or piece of art or you proudest up is the one other several. Is it the body of art your words? You you'd be thumbs, Leary, some music. I think my greatest blessing, my greatest blessing, has been the birth of my son. My makes greatest Blasi have been my ability, to turn people into children of mine is my greatest blessing, and sometimes you know you no matter your greatest gift to me is: is that
one of us who considers ourselves to be your daughter or your son, zero. Every one of us thinks we're the most special. So I think that is the arc of a great many areas to make everyone feel like they are the special do any of you know you really thank you for that I remember that when gales mother Passed- and I spoke at her mothers funeral all- this is too said- we thought we were her favorite each system sought that they were empty loot, that's a gift as exhibited a mother can give the greatest story. I'm all the stories I've heard in this book in her to tell about your mother over the years, and I had the pleasure and honour of Meeting Miss Baxter. I self myself and saying to house, but the greatest story is when you were, I don't, I would go anywhere how'd you were when you were working,
and you ve got enough of work in this. The guy picked you up at work. Yeah tell that story, and the man who is, A loving MA am love a loving romantically as well. Pick me up and drove me out to area in tell him about Sammy, Deserto, half moon by half he asked me to get out of the car and got out of the car. You'd been dating For why hands- and he was really wonderful Eliza who I am and when I walked around, that I thought we were a romantic, plays out by the bay and suffer any hit me with his face when he had been a prize fighter. He hit me beat me and some time ago unconscious and I'd come to him and gave at him, and he would be a big playing
and it me and go out again. The next thing I knew I was in the back of his and he drove to a restaurant in San Francisco at that time called very loose chicken chair and he pulled out there and he called the man over and show and show them he's at. This is what you do to a bee. Who is cheating on you and the people looked and they went back in and told me it's Betty Lou at this man has your friend's daughter in the of his car she's dead, Miss Barry, LUCA, my mother and my mother went to her poor how and she got two of them. The report by the bull. How she meant they get to bed is the most car that people find. She said. I want you to come with me and she found where the man
and she knocked at the door. Not me, I won't were you there, that's what I could not vote for a three day. You was a he cap, he'd like held, you can use the next thing I heard with loud shouting in the hall and and my mother said break. This is obeyed down, break it down my babies in May and the two huge. And broke down the door, so she rescued you idiot. I love about this or your mother comes through the door. She breaks through the door after three days. She rescue nurses, you back to house takes care of you, you and then one day says: go get em, those years where he is, and she had friends who knew him, and you should put the word- So I will miss Vivian backs, are no more, not less worker she won't play for in play. She said I
Van joke with I don't play. Tell me this. You say words of things and that their so powerful do you have a favorite word. Love love is your favorite young maiden are the words that you my Angelo as a writer. Just the sound of and the like murmur you'd like murmur emu are immune without good, then does murmur. You can't shout murmur, it is murmur murmured. You can't shout murmur now the one thing that I think that I have admired and loved about you that I couldn't articulated just two.
Let me now, I remember once being in your house in somebody was telling a joke and you are on the other. We had a party was I noise in the room and they were making telling a joke and it was a racist, homosexual joke any you stopped the party. First of all, I couldn't believe they like. How can t hear that and she's always over them? Would you stop the party and ask the person to excuse themselves and we Your house gives exactly as I Yoko did. You come with anyone. Will you come this, I don't know, no so in everybody else's like whoa, what just happened, and then you said all of us. I will not allow it in my house enshrined as Bulgaria and its poison, and this is where a person must know. I know there are black
people who say: oh you can use the n word to me because I'm I'm black know it is poison. All of that any racial pejorative text from Victoria to any of that stuff is created to make a person less than human, and that means it's poison. Nobody can use it safely. I mean it. Poison is They make you get them pharmacy and it has p o s o in on it and skull and bone. Yes, you can't take that content and point into barbarians. System and make it the where they still finds? Yes, three and you dont want cling to the world, get into the upper Austria in your clothes and sooner or later ran into you right into you. Ok, so this is why I want to know: where did you get the courage
not allow it in your space, because there have been many of you were watching right now. People say things that make you uncomfortable. They start a joke, that's going to be, you know it's a leading down a racial path or homophobic pass or whatever and people just sort of people laugh nervously at it. Cuz they don't know how to how do you stop it? You don't stop it by doing it immediately. You develop courage. Courage, opera is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you cannot practise any other virtue consistently. You can be anything radically now and then and fair. True generous, does the blah blah, but to do that thing time after time. So what you do is you do it in small ways I mean if you wanted to pick up a rebound, wait. You wouldn't just good picture that I pick firepower meant in it, but that's the same way you do with courage, you do the courageous thing as well
and you'll like it there, and then you do another two or three, like you say better and before you know it, you are able to say, excuse me, not in my house, you don't you dont paint, my walls with poison and vulgarity. You will not do it in my house out. Is this your prayers? Thank you up of what did NA I've seen it. Because you believe that words are thing yes MA am, I know they are. They are things absolutely you can put somewhere together make people want to go to war. But another few words and make them long for peace where it is so important, and this is where you take to God words: you may not frame them my dad, those your high? Yes, so when you go down on your knees or in your bed,
having anytime you pray, you using words M loan me, I'm hungry, I'm lost, I mean paying whatever your words are help. They are words. They inform not only God but the immediate round how you really feel they are able you're able to speak a nuance, so be careful how you said yes, man, because they carry the power. Yes, man thank you. Thank you, my and thank you very metal, I'm over Winfrey and you ve been listening to supersede conversations podcast you can follow two percent on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, if you haven't yet go to apple podcast, unsubscribe rate and review this pledge gas joy next week for another super, so conversation. Thank you for listening.
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-02.