- Created on 18 October 2013
NEW YORK (AP) — Her body weak, her voice rich and strong, Maya Angelou sang, lectured and reminisced as she accepted a lifetime achievement award Thursday night from the Norman Mailer Center.
The 85-year-old author, poet, dancer and actress was honored during a benefit gala at the New York Public Library, the annual gathering organized by the Mailer Center and writers colony . Seated in a wheelchair, she was a vivid presence in dark glasses and a sparkling black dress as she marveled that a girl from a segregated Arkansas village could grow up to become a literary star.
“Imagine it,” she said, “a town so prejudiced black people couldn’t even eat vanilla ice cream.”
Angelou was introduced by her former editor at Random House, Robert Loomis, and she praised him for talking her into writing her breakthrough memoir, the million-selling “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” The key was suggesting to her that the book might be too hard to write.
The people who knew her best, she explained, understood that “if you want to get Maya Angelou to do so something, tell her she can’t.”
Angelou, a longtime resident of North Carolina, will be back in Manhattan next month to collect an honorary National Book Award medal.
Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Junot Diaz and the late author-journalist Michael Hastings also received prizes Thursday. Hastings’ widow, Elise, teared up as she accepted a journalism award on behalf of her husband, who died in a car accident last summer at age 33.
She recalled that Hastings, best known for a Rolling Stone story about the U.S. war in Afghanistan that led to the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, felt a kinship with for the brilliant and troublesome Mailer. When the couple fought, she said, he would point out that in “comparison to Mailer he was a great husband,” a reference to a notorious incident in which Mailer stabbed his wife.
Hastings was a “dissident, a cynical idealist and a breathtaking writer,” she said.
The dinner event was the fifth gala for the Mailer center, named for the celebrated author who died in 2007 and dedicated to helping writers “across all genres who seek artful ways to express themselves and provoke meaningful discussion about our society.”
Previous honorees include Toni Morrison, Keith Richards and Robert Caro.
- Created on 17 October 2013
The divide between rich and poor isn’t just growing in America’s bank accounts. It’s also splitting apart its neighborhoods, cutting the country in two, according to a new study.
This growing physical separation of the rich and poor is hastening the decline of middle-class neighborhoods and could make income inequality even
- Created on 17 October 2013
Maude Ballou, who served as the personal secretary for the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., from 1955 to 1960, sits in the background while her son Howard, displays the handwritten message King wrote to his mother in a copy of his book "Stride Toward Freedom," Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013 in Ridgeland, Miss. While Ballou is keeping this book, she is planning to sell documents and other items related to the civil rights icon through an auction house in New York on Oct. 17. (AP Photo / Rogelio V. Solis)
NEW YORK (AP) — Papers from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., including a page from his "I Have a Dream" speech, were being auctioned in New York on Thursday.
The papers were being sold by Maude Ballou, 88, who worked as King's secretary from 1955 to 1960, through the New York office of Texas-based Heritage Auctions.
Some of the more than 100 items are so unusual that it's difficult to put a value on them, said Sandra Palomino, director of historical manuscripts for Heritage Auctions.
"We're really relying on letting the market decide what the value is going to be," Palomino said.
The materials include a handwritten letter King sent to Ballou while touring India in 1959 to learn more about Mahatma Gandhi's campaign of nonviolent resistance.
Another item is a typed final page of King's "I Have a Dream" speech, according to the auction house. The page was sent to Ballou on Jan. 31, 1968, weeks before King was assassinated, by Lillie Hunter, bookkeeper for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
King's estate sued the secretary's son, Howard Ballou, in U.S. District Court in Jackson, Miss., in 2011 in a bid to take possession of the items. U.S. District Judge Tom Lee dismissed the lawsuit in March, saying there was nothing to contradict Maude Ballou's testimony that King gave her the material and that the statute of limitations had passed. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld the decision based on the statute of limitations.
King's estate, operated as a private company by his children, is known to fight for control of the King brand. Harry Belafonte sued the estate this week in Manhattan federal court over the fate of three documents he tried to sell at auction.
Ballou, of Ridgeland, Miss., told The Associated Press last month that selling her collection was bittersweet. She said a portion of the proceeds would be used to establish an education fund at Alabama State University.
- Created on 16 October 2013
A huge electronic billboard outside of a Kendallville, Ind., shopping mall displayed the brazen depiction of President Barack Obama sporting an Adolf Hitler mustache, followed by the words, "IMPEACH OBAMA." Even though the display was taken down Tuesday, there are folks who are still fuming over why it was displayed to begin with, reports WANE-TV.
The billboard, which was located in a town 20 miles outside of Fort Wayne, ignited a nasty backlash from angry folks on the internet. Reportedly, locals felt that the President was unfairly compared to the iron-fisted Nazi ruler who extinguished the lives of millions based on race and sexual orientation. Kendallville's mayor Suzanne Handshoe lamented to WANE-TV, "All the hard work we put forward as a community to change our image; to be a positive, growing community, and then a sign like this appears. It just undoes everything we've been doing."
The billboard was reportedly funded by the LaRouche Political Action Committee, a group of political activists who seem to believe that the Obama administration is a fascist regime. The group is also actively seeking to get the president impeached, among other outlandish actions. The followers are steadfast in their quest to get the word out about the controversial views of former presidential candidate Lydon LaRouche, who by the way, reportedly supported the two-day stunt.
LaRouche Political Action Committee members, who also believe Obama is helping to ignite a Third World War, were reportedly in town for a conference and purchased the billboard space in order to make their presence known.