Maya Angelou Celebrates Black History With Oprah, Keys

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This year’s special mostly focuses on women in media and entertainment, and heavily uses music to convey history.

“I think music is one of the hero/sheroes of the African-American existence,” Angelou said, noting that black history has been preserved through music, via songs on slave ships to Negro hymns passed down in Baptist churches.

The single man spotlighted as a guest on the radio program is Annan, the former secretary-general of the United Nations and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He talks about climbing the ranks in diplomacy and his mission of public service.

“Mr. Kofi Annan has behaved too fabulously as secretary-general of the United Nations and he’s had more than one stint at the job and he has earned a Nobel,” she said. “Sometimes we don’t know about any African except Nelson Mandela and oft times, we don’t know any Afro-American man.”

Angelou jokes that next year she will feature all men for the annual special, with rapper Common already in mind.

“Or mostly men, because there are men of such quality — African-American men — such riches, such dignity and humor,” she said. “They just run through my mind now.”

Another man who brings Angelou great pride is Richard Blanco, the youngest, the first Hispanic and the first gay person to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration — last month at President Barack Obama’s second swearing-in. Angelou was the first black woman to recite a poem at an inauguration, President Bill Clinton‘s in 1993.

“He showed great courage,” she said of Blanco, “and it’s courage (that) is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. So I was very pleased with that.”

(Photo: AP)

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