Super Soul Sunday
Sundays at 11 a.m. ET/PT
Posted: Tue 05/14/2013 12:00 AM
In December 2000, a timeless conversation between Dr. Maya Angelou and Oprah ran in O, the Oprah Magazine. Read on as the woman Oprah calls mentor-mother-sister-friend offers wise words about the roots of confidence, the trouble with modesty and how to do the impossible.
Then, tune in Sunday at 11 a.m. ET/PT to watch the second part of "Super Soul Sunday" with Dr. Maya Angelou. Tune in on OWN, or join our worldwide simulcast at Oprah.com, Facebook.com/owntv or Facebook.com/supersoulsunday.
Since the moment I opened I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings , I've felt deeply connected to Maya Angelou. With each page, her life seemed to mirror mine: In her early years she was raised by her grandmother in the South; as a young girl she was raped; and, like me, she grew up reciting what the church folks called little pieces—a few lines from the Bible that were usually delivered amid shouts and amens from the women fanning themselves in the front pews. Meeting Maya on those pages was like meeting myself in full. For the first time, as a young black girl, my experience was validated.
And it still is, only now I sit at Maya's feet, beside her fireplace, hardly believing that, years after reading Caged Bird , she is my mentor and close friend. When we met in Baltimore more than 20 years ago, our bond was immediate. We talked as if we had known each other our entire lives; and throughout my twenties and in the years beyond, Maya brought clarity to my life lessons. Now we have what I call a mother-sister-friend relationship. She's the woman who can share my triumphs, chide me with hard truth and soothe me with words of comfort when I call her in my deepest pain.
She speaks of what she knows. Born in St. Louis in 1928, Maya moved to rural Stamps, Arkansas, to be with her grandmother after her parents split. When she went back to St. Louis in the mid-1930s, her mother's boyfriend stole her virginity. In the aftermath of that trauma, 8-year-old Maya became mute and rarely opened her mouth to speak for several years. At 17 she had her only child, Guy. A few years later, when her grandmother died, the grief sent her reeling. It was then that she gave herself what one might call a Maya manifest: She would live—fully.
So she did. She became a celebrated calypso singer and dancer in a San Francisco cabaret. In the late 1950s she moved to New York and took part in the Harlem Writers Guild and befriended literary greats such as James Baldwin, who later encouraged her to tell her story in Caged Bird . In the years that followed, her renewed zeal for life would take her and Guy to many countries throughout the world. In 1961 she moved to Cairo, where she worked at the Arab Observer , and a few years later she went to Ghana to teach at the University of Ghana's School of Music and Drama. As a result of her travels, she became fluent in French, Italian, Spanish, Arabic and Fanti, a West African language.
Today Maya is a kind of quintessential Everywoman: essayist, entertainer, activist, poet, professor, film director and mother-and she recently guest conducted the Boston Pops simply because she felt like it. She has written more than 20 books, and she once had three titles— Caged Bird , The Heart of a Woman and Even the Stars Looked Lonesome —on The New York Times best-seller list simultaneously for six consecutive weeks. In 1993 she became the first poet since Robert Frost in 1961 to write and recite a poem at a presidential inaugural ceremony—a performance for which she won a Grammy for Best Non-Musical Album. She is a Tony-nominated actress who has appeared in such productions as Look Away (1973) and Roots , a 1977 miniseries; and she made her feature-film directing debut with the 1998 Showtime movie Down in the Delta . All that, and she cooks like a champion: She prepares the kind of food that makes you want to take a bite and tell about it.
At Maya's home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, we greet each other with hugs, grins and our favorite exchange: "Hey, you girl!" At 72 Maya exudes confidence and extraordinary intelligence—and her wit is as acute as her wisdom.
I remind her of the time a few years ago when someone in her home told a derogatory joke and she doled out what I call a skinning—the sharp words of correction she will give anyone who demeans her or others while in her presence. Yet all of Maya's friends know that beneath such chastisement is a layer of kindness and generosity you don't often find in people in these times. It is here, in Maya's home, that I feel as comfortable as I do in my own—at the table where we always flop down and catch up, in the sculpture garden in her backyard, in the kitchen where the sweet smell of pumpkin soup wafts through the air. When I am with Maya, unimportant matters melt away—her presence feels like a warm bath after an exhausting day. In our hours together, we can set aside all pretensions and just be: two women barefoot in a living room, sharing the most intimate parts of our lives.
Start reading Oprah's interview with Maya Angelou >>
Posted: Mon 05/13/2013 12:00 AM
This Sunday, living legend Dr. Maya Angelou returns with even more life lessons. "I don't believe anyone on earth has taught me more than Maya Angelou," Oprah says. Dr. Angelou shares her secrets to aging beautifully, new insights into her fascinating relationship with her mother, and a revelation that moves her to tears.
Did you miss last week? Watch part 1 of Oprah and Dr. Angelou's conversation on demand.
Tune in at 11 a.m. ET PT on OWN or join our worldwide simulcast on Oprah.com, Facebook.com/owntv and Facebook.com/supersoulsunday.
Posted: Sun 05/12/2013 02:00 PM
Dr. Maya Angelou's latest book, Mom & Me & Mom, chronicles the deepest personal story of her life: The relationship with her mother, Vivian Baxter—a former nurse who ran her own gambling club, pool hall and boarding house. She was as fiery as she was nurturing. Dr. Angelou called her Lady.
Like a lot of mothers and daughters, their relationship was powerful yet complicated. When Dr. Angelou stopped speaking after she was sexually assaulted at age 7, Vivian sent her and her brother to live with their grandmother in Rural Stamps, Arkansas. When Maya turned 13, Vivian called them home to San Francisco. It was at that time Dr. Angelou truly got to know her mother.
Dr. Angelou says the love of her mother, Vivian Baxter, encouraged her to live a life full of pizzazz. It was also that love that helped Dr. Angelou to become the first black streetcar conductor in San Francisco at age 16. "I loved the uniforms," Dr. Angelou says. "So I said, 'That's a job I want.'" When she went to get an application, Dr. Angelou says, the staff refused to give her one. Watch below to see how her mother encouraged her to persevere—and find out how Vivian made sure her daughter was safe at work during early-morning shifts.
Dr. Angelou says that to describe her mother "would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power." One particular story from Dr. Angelou's life brings that to light. Watch below to find out how Vivian led the charge to rescue young Maya from an abusive boyfriend, who was holding her against her will for days:
Though Dr. Angelou says Vivian was a "terrible" mother for young children, she was a "fantastic" mother for young adults. When Dr. Angelou was 22 years old, Vivian told her something that changed her life forever. Watch below to find out what it was:
Posted: Fri 05/10/2013 04:52 PM
On May 12, "Super Soul Sunday" returns for an all-new batch of eye-opening and thought-provoking conversations with today's thought leaders. Mark your calendar and see who Oprah's talking to now!
May 12: "Oprah & Dr. Maya Angelou, Part One"
In part one of this special interview, Oprah sits down with her beloved mentor, author Dr. Maya Angelou. Discussing her latest book Mom & Me & Mom, Dr. Angelou delves into one of the deepest personal stories of her life: her relationship with her mother.
May 19: "Oprah & Dr. Maya Angelou, Part Two"
Oprah's heart-to-heart conversation continues with acclaimed author, Dr. Maya Angelou. Discussing her latest book, Mom & Me & Mom, Dr. Angelou reveals how her tough, but tender-hearted mother transformed her life. Plus, she shares her insights on aging brilliantly, and how love can liberate you.
May 26: "The Bigger Picture with Oprah, the Rev. Ed Bacon, Elizabeth Lesser & Mark Nepo"
Join Oprah and three dynamic thought leaders for the first installment of 'The Bigger Picture,' a Super Soul Sunday panel discussion about today's top global headlines, bringing unique and thoughtful perspective to world news topics ranging from prescription drugs to terrorism, gun violence, and our fascination with celebrity culture.
June 2: "Oprah & Dr. Brian Weiss: Reincarnation, Past Lives and Miracles"
Groundbreaking psychiatrist and best-selling author of "Many Lives, Many Masters" tells Oprah of how he came to practice past life regression therapy.
June 9: "Oprah & Karen Armstrong, Part One"
Former Roman Catholic nun and best-selling religious historian Karen Armstrong, who created TED's Charter for Compassion, reveals her life story and why she is on a mission to build greater compassion in the world.
June 16: "Oprah & Coach Phil Jackson"
Widely considered one of the greatest American basketball coaches in history, 11 time NBA Championship coach Phil Jackson opens up to Oprah like you've never seen him before, talking about his strict upbringing, his coaching philosophy as it relates to life lessons and his battle with cancer.
June 23: "Oprah & Grammy-Award Winner India.Arie: Spiritual Awakening"
Grammy Award-winning musician and songstress India.Arie sits down with Oprah for a truly spiritual and heart-opening conversation where she reveals her downward spiral after being shut out of her first Grammy nominations. Arie talks about what was holding her back and how she broke through. Plus, Arie performs a very special song from her new album.
June 30: "Oprah & Grammy-Award Winner India.Arie: How to Break Through"
The India.Arie conversation continues as she addresses a recent controversy that landed her in the headlines. She explains her spiritual awakening in Hawaii, talks about love relationships and why she chose to trust her intuition.
Posted: Fri 05/10/2013 12:00 AM
It's a simple, yet powerful lesson, Oprah's friend and mentor Dr. Maya Angelou taught her many years ago: "When you know better, you do better." Find out why Oprah says these words are freeing for anyone who's ever made a mistake.
Watch the first of Oprah's two-part interview with Dr. Maya Angelou this Sunday at 11 a.m ET/PT on OWN. You can also join our worldwide simulcast at Oprah.com, Facebook.com/SuperSoulSunday or Facebook.com/OWNTV.