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Moyers & Company

Facing Evil with Maya Angelou (#332)

In this second of two programs celebrating the life and work of the late Maya Angelou, Bill Moyers revisits a 1988 documentary in which he and Angelou attended a conference on "Facing Evil," held in the Hill Country of central Texas. Evil was a topic about which Angelou, the victim of childhood rape and virulent racism, had a lot to say. Rape caused her to retreat into silence for five years. she said, and was "a dire kind of evil, because rape on the body of a young person more often than not introduces cynicism, and there is nothing quite so tragic as a young cynic, because it means the person has gone from knowing nothing to believing nothing. In my case I was saved in that muteness, you see, in the sordida, I was saved. And I was able to draw from human thought, human disappointments and triumphs, enough to triumph myself." She recites the lyrics of a song she wrote for Roberta Flack about Angelou's crippled Uncle Willie, who made sure she and others knew their lessons and "left for our generation and generations to come a legacy so rich. " She reads from the poetry of African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar as well her own: "There in those pleated faces/I see the auction block/The chains and slavery's coffles/The whip and lash and stock./My fathers speak in voices/That shred my fact and sound/They say, but, sugar, it was our submission/that made your world go round.'' She tells the conference, "We need the courage to create ourselves daily, to be bodacious enough to create ourselves daily -- as Christians, as Jews, as Muslims, as thinking, caring, laughing, loving human beings," she says. I think that the courage to confront evil and turn it by dint of will into something applicable to the development of our evolution, individually and collectively, is exciting, honorable." [24 minutes] Closed Captioning

PBS Video

Series Description: Bill Moyers returns on-air and online in January 2012 with MOYERS & COMPANY, a weekly hour of compelling and vital conversation about life and the state of American democracy, featuring some of the best thinkers of our time. A range of scholars, artists, activists, scientists, philosophers and newsmakers bring context, insight and meaning to important topics. The series occasionally includes Moyers' own timely and penetrating essays on society and government. In a multimedia marketplace saturated with shallow sound bites and partisan name-calling, MOYERS & COMPANY digs deeper. As the Los Angeles Times put it in 2010, "No one on television has centralized the discussion of ideas as much as Moyers... He not only gives a forum to unusual thinkers, he is truly interested in what they have to say and who they are because he believes their ideas really matter. "

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