Talk:Maya Angelou

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Featured article Maya Angelou is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
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News This article has been mentioned by multiple media organizations:

"she is respected"[edit]

Does the sentences that states that Angelou is respected as a spokesperson for Black people need a citation? Toodle007 (talk) 22:10, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

Toodle (love your username), it depends on which time it's mentioned in the article. As per WP:LEADCITE, it isn't necessary to cite sources in the lead unless it's a direct quote or it's a statement that can be challenged. The statement, which appears again later on, in the "Influence" subsection, is supported by ref 106. There can be an argument that the statement can be challenged, so I'm not unopposed to inserting it in the lead, although I personally don't think it's necessary. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 22:16, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

Best known for autobiography over poetry?[edit]

This article's statement that "Angelou is best known for her autobiographies, but she is also an established poet" seems to me to be highly debatable. I would posit that most younger Americans only know Angelou as a poet, her publication history notwithstanding. Her poetry is widely quoted in the media, her autobiographies, little if at all. I'm not taking it upon myself to delete the statement, but I think the point that Angelou has authored both types of works can be made in a less subjective way. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 108.20.74.240 (talk) 16:53, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

You make a good point, but the sources support that she's better known for her autobiographies. I haven't found any source that supports your assertion. With the publication this year of her most recent autobiography, which has been a best-seller, there has been a lot of attention to all her books in the press, and Caged Bird has always been popular. If you can find a source that supports your statement, go ahead and add it. That being said, though, how would you state it less subjectively? Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 17:51, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

Spelling of the Greek name[edit]

(In response to this edit). Are there any sources? Angelou looks to me like a perfectly legitimate Greek name (in fact, I know somebody whose name is Evangelou).--Ymblanter (talk) 21:58, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

I just added the source, probably as you were saving your comment. Believe me, this has been discussed. [1]. Thanks. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 22:02, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

"After her marriage to the Greek sailor, Anastasios Angelopulos, she too must have realized that there is some sort of value in a name as she kept his name, albeit shortened it to Angelou, creating a timeless and unique identity for herself." Desiree Michael123.211.211.153 (talk) 11:55, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 2 March 2014[edit]

Please change Dr. Angelou's former list of professions from "pimp and prostitute" to "Calypso dancer."

Details: Please consider editing the first paragraph of Dr. Maya Angelou's page. Out of respect for Dr. Angelou, could you please consider removing her list of occupations as "pimp, prostitute [...]?" She identifies herself as a former Calypso dancer, which is what she truly was at heart. Thanks so much and have a wonderful day. Rosespiritflower (talk) 22:38, 2 March 2014 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but I don't see what the problem is. The sentence in question has a long list of Dr. Angelou's former occupations, including the fact that she was a nightclub performer. Later in the article, it describes her time as a calypso performer. She's not embarrassed about her venture into the dark side of life, and in her second autobiography, Gather Together in My Name, she's very clear about it. In the article about Gather Together, and elsewhere in articles about her here, it's very clear about her reasoning to include the information in that book and others, despite her misgivings about how it would be received by the public. One of the reasons she has disclosed it publicly is because she knows that she's an example of how one can rise above even a stint in the life of a prostitute. If she's not ashamed of it, why should we, and why shouldn't the article about her reflect that? Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 00:33, 3 March 2014 (UTC)
After thinking about this for a little while, and looking at what we've done on other Angelou articles, I've reconsidered. I suspect that the problem expressed above, which has been expressed by others, is with the fact that the pimp/prostitute occupation is listed first, which can be considered disrespectful and perhaps even incendiary. I think that the way I changed it resolves the issue, without taking out the mention of Dr. Angelou's short involvement in this particular occupation. I hope that it satisfies the issue. Thanks to Rosespiritflower for inspiring the change. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 23:23, 3 March 2014 (UTC)
yeah that's better. I think her time as a prostitute was rather short, and leading with that was a bit unsettling. I think putting it in context - eg she did a lot of jobs in her life - is much better.--Obi-Wan Kenobi (talk) 00:26, 4 March 2014 (UTC)
Not done: It looks to me like this request has been withdrawn and I'm deactivating the template above and closing this request as such. If I've misread the situation, feel free to set |ans= or |answered= to |ans=no and explain why you've reopened the request with details of the consensual request. Thank you for your interest in editing the English Wikipedia. — {{U|Technical 13}} (tec) 02:16, 4 March 2014 (UTC)

According to...[edit]

The article is crawling with "'According to ..." constructions. This is useless verbiage in an already overlong article. For the love of Pete, there is even "according to Gillespie, a large group of friends and extended family." Is this in doubt? That she had friends and family? Wikipedia has refs and footnotes for the express purpose of avoiding such clutter in the main body of text. Abductive (reasoning) 16:47, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

Then for heaven's sake, fix it. Do a copy-edit. And please--"overlong"? This article is a FA, so it's gone through all kinds of vetting from other experienced editors who obviously didn't think so at the time of its review, and who felt that its length was worthy of its subject. They also felt that this article, with the amount of sources available, was broad and comprehensive enough. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 20:29, 28 May 2014 (UTC)
It's a lot of work. Saying something is FA doesn't mean it is supposed to be written like a undergrad senior thesis with loads of quotes and groveling acknowledgement of the mighty scholars who have gone before. Abductive (reasoning) 05:30, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
Huh? You're kidding, right? Have you any idea how many hours that I've spent on these articles? How about asking nicely, like this: "Hey, I have a suggestion for how you can improve this article." That's what we're all here for, right? Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 06:02, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Quotes, tributes etc[edit]

I've (twice) trimmed the presidential quotes and would be extremely loth to see this become a collection of tributes. --John (talk) 21:14, 28 May 2014 (UTC)

If you want to see what a real "quotefarm" looks like, then see the BBC report, or the CBS report. When I added in some reaction to her death, I deliberately didn't add in celebrity Twitter-based comments, which would have been excessive. But I didn't think brief comments from two US presidents (heads of state, of course, not simply political figures) were excessive (which is why I added them in the first place) and am puzzled why you chose to leave the (much more pedestrian) quote from Harold Augenbraum (which was at the time the only "world of literature" tribute I could find) when Augenbraum has infinitely less worldwide name recognition than Obama or Clinton. But as I don't care about this really, you can have your way. BencherliteTalk 23:11, 28 May 2014 (UTC)
This is Wikipedia, which has a policy about such things. There are other policies that we need to be mindful of, such as WP:NOTNEWS, WP:CRYSTAL, WP:TEA (which is a suggestion, but a good one), WP:DEADLINE, WP:FORUM. I'm sure there are others. I suggest that since it's a FA already, we wait a little while and see what reports come out before we add to or change much of this article. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 03:26, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
I have to state that, like Gandydancer, I also see nothing wrong with including these two relevant quotes that John re-removed. At the same time, John has a point about WP:QUOTEFARM and being careful to not let that section become a collection of quotes similar to Wikipedia Reception sections (such as the Critical reception sections of the vast majority of Wikipedia film articles). We can summarize statements in our own words, of course, where appropriate. Flyer22 (talk) 03:37, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Angelou was a writer, not a politician. It is significant that two former presidents eulogized her. If the wording of their eulogies becomes important we can include it. I don't think at this stage the wordings are important, which is why I trimmed it. --John (talk) 06:13, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

One's the current president and the other's a former president, but what you meant is clear; I'm simply noting the "current; former" status because I'm sometimes nitpicky like that. Flyer22 (talk) 06:21, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
Oops, of course, you are right. Must drink more coffee. --John (talk) 06:34, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

I'm fine with the wording as it currently stands, although I suggest that we add info about all the accolades, as the WSJ reports here [2]. I'd also like to replace the refs from the local TV stations with more reliable ones, since there are plenty. There have been a few useful articles that we can use, but I'd like to wait a little while before we add the info from them. Yes, coffee's always a good idea; alcohol too. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 16:29, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Semiprotection[edit]

Why is this article semi protected? 141.6.11.16 (talk) 18:43, 28 May 2014 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 141.6.11.15 (talk)

It looks like User:Bencherlite protected it a couple of months ago for TFA purposes. Meantime, do you have any edits you want to propose? --John (talk) 22:39, 28 May 2014 (UTC)
No, I gave it temporary full move-protection in 2013 (not a couple of months ago) for TFA purposes; it was already semi-protected indefinitely (and has been since February 2010) because of BLP-infringing edits, and I didn't change that. BencherliteTalk 22:57, 28 May 2014 (UTC)
That is correct, although I didn't remember the timing of it. This article has historically been vandalized, in horrible and ugly ways. With her death, the protection is fortunate. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 02:58, 29 May 2014 (UTC)
  • Oops. Note to self: start wearing reading glasses when examining protection logs. --John (talk) 06:11, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

African American?[edit]

I see other poets listed by their nationality, not their nationality plus race. Can we call her an "American" in the lead?

Done. Rothorpe (talk) 02:22, 29 May 2014 (UTC)


Race and Culture in regard to Black is one and the same in the United States of America. You cannot disassociate the two in this regard.shiznaw (talk) 00:05, 7 June 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 29 May 2014[edit]

The line "Challener argued that Angelou's book has provided a "useful framework" for exploring the obstacles many children like have Maya faced and how communities have helped them succeed." The error is the "like have Maya". It should read "Challener argued that Angelou's book has provided a "useful framework" for exploring the obstacles many children like Maya have faced and how communities have helped them succeed." 2601:6:1400:D7:5AB0:35FF:FE60:955B (talk) 02:00, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Yes check.svg Done BryanG (talk) 02:12, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Page views[edit]

It might be of interest to some folks that yesterday, the day Dr. Angelou died (5/28), this article received over 600,000 views; as of this morning (5/29), it has received almost 350,000 [3]. (I'll update the latter number tomorrow.) While it isn't nearly as many as Michael Jackson received the week following his death [4], it's still significant, with a 24,000% increase. That increase, however, is similar to Jackson's increase (37,000%). Demonstrates the importance of Wikipedia, and how crucial it is for the articles here to be of high quality. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 17:57, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

One more thing to add: I've only glanced at the numbers of Angelou's other articles, but there's a similar increase. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 18:01, 29 May 2014 (UTC)

Memoirs[edit]

Is not the term 'memoir' more accurate than 'autobiography' in almost every instance of the latters usage on this page? Gareth E Kegg (talk) 00:40, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

No it is not. "Autobiography" is how Angelou and most scholars refer to her seven books. Part of the reason for it is that until the late 20th century, after Angelou began writing, the memoir was a subcategory of the autobiography, and they were often used interchangeably. I suppose if Angelou began writing her books a decade or two later, they would be called memoirs in the more modern definition and usage. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 04:31, 30 May 2014 (UTC)
Great explanation, thank you. Gareth E Kegg (talk) 07:10, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

Name pronunciation[edit]

According to an NPR interview in which she is asked to pronounce it, her last name is pronounced "an-jel-oh." I don't know how to modify the IPA but I can locate a link to the source so that this may be corrected.--~TPW 20:22, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

The IPA already gives that pronunciation. Rothorpe (talk) 20:35, 30 May 2014 (UTC)

She did not earn a university degree...it was Angelou's preference that she be called "Dr. Angelou" by people outside of her family and close friends[edit]

The article mentions her honorary degrees but doesn't name any specific ones.

I was present when she received an honorary doctorate from Centenary College of Louisiana in May, 1989. I believe it would be nice to know that she had a reason for wanting to be called "Dr Angelou." Morag MacGregor (talk) 17:03, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

Yes, User:Morag MacGregor, this article is very clear about these facts. It states that she only earned a high school degree, and that she preferred to be called "Dr." None of the sources specifically explain why; just that it was her preference. Listing all her honorary degrees (over 50) would make this article too long. However, her honorary degrees are listed in List of honors received by Maya Angelou. How fortunate you were to hear Angelou speak in public, which I'm sure was a treat. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 17:37, 2 June 2014 (UTC)

Typical Hagiography of a Liberal Icon[edit]

Where is the controversies section? She had a lot of detractors, you know. If she was a conservative darling instead of a liberal one, the controversies section would be the LONGEST part! lol But, wikipedia again discredits itself as any kind of legitimate source of information by daring not to present any views countervailing the left wing orthodoxy.99.185.56.93 (talk) 01:11, 3 June 2014 (UTC)

You may want to read WP:CRIT and WP:NPOV for starters. TechBear | Talk | Contributions 01:54, 3 June 2014 (UTC)
Also, this article is a presentation of Dr. Angelou's life. Just because there isn't a "Controversy" section doesn't mean that all aspects, positive and negative, aren't presented. Because they are. If you want to read about the controversies surrounding her, go read the articles about all seven of her autobiographies, Poetry of Maya Angelou, and Themes in Maya Angelou's autobiographies, all of which are FAs. And then while you're at it, go read some of her books, which can't hurt, right? Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 02:55, 3 June 2014 (UTC)

Autobiography[edit]

The autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (which I just read), only goes up to the birth of her son, and does not include anything about her life after that. Note 23 (Cliff Notes) is incorrect. Further autobiographical information is probably in another one of her books (which I am looking forward to reading.) rsmtime — Preceding unsigned comment added by Rsmtime (talkcontribs) 15:28, 7 July 2014 (UTC)

User:Rsmtime, thanks for bringing this to our attention. With all the increased traffic to this article since Dr. Angelou's death (6 1/2 million views the week following), it's been a challenge to keep up with all the edits and ensure that they're accurate and correctly sourced. You're right; the paragraph was incorrect, and additionally, Cliffs Notes is not a reliable source. Therefore, I removed it. Again, thanks. Christine (Figureskatingfan) (talk) 16:26, 7 July 2014 (UTC)