FRIENDS FOR FREEDOM
At her memorial, former President Bill Angelou ‘proved how dumb racism is’. the most revered civil rights activists: Although both died before they were 40,
MALCOLM X (died 1964)
The activist: Malcolm X travelled to Ghana while Angelou and her son were living there and she became close friends with him.‘Our people need you,’ he told her.‘You have seen Africa. Bring it home and teach our people about the homeland.’ She returned to the US in 1965 to help build his Organization of Afro-American Unity. He was shot dead before she had the chance. The man: On meeting him, she said,‘I had never been so affected by a human presence.’ She wrote about him in The Heart Of A Woman and All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes. Did you know? Once asked if there was something important that people should know about Malcolm X, she said,‘He had an incredible sense of humour; they should know that about Martin [Luther King Jr] too.’
Clinton said that through her life’s work, She spoke at the funerals of two of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. they touched her life in different ways.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR (died 1968)
The leader: ‘I join with millions of black people the world over in saying, “You are our leader”,’ wrote Angelou to Martin Luther King Jr in 1961. She was devastated when the man famous for his belief in non-violent protest was assassinated on 4 April 1968. His legacy: ‘The gift [he] gave the world is hope,’ she said. ‘Hope that we will come through this.’ Shortly after his death she started work on I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. ‘That book saved my life. While I was writing it, I thought about his ability to forgive and I began to forgive others and myself.’ Did you know? Oprah Winfrey’s last conversation with Angelou was about the film Selma, which Winfrey is producing, on King’s civil rights campaign. ‘Baby, I want you to do it and to take it, ’Angelou said. ‘Take it all the way.’