FRIENDS FOR FREE­DOM

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - LIFE STORY -

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.’

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