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Garden Party Celebration For Dr. Maya Angelou's 82nd Birthday

Source: Steve Exum / Getty

“Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise,” the first feature documentary on the prolific life of Dr. Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928-May 28, 2014) will premiere on PBS’ American Masters series nationwide tomorrow, Tuesday, February 21 at 8 p.m. (check local listings). PBS Distribution will also release the film on DVD the same day, with additional bonus features, and on Digital HD February 22.

With unprecedented access, filmmakers Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack trace Dr. Angelou’s incredible journey, shedding light on the untold aspects of her life through never-before-seen footage, rare archival photographs and videos and her own words. From her upbringing in the Depression-era South and her early performing career, to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana, and her many writing successes, including her inaugural poem for President Bill Clinton, “Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise” reveals hidden facets of her life during some of America’s most defining moments. The film also features exclusive interviews with Dr. Angelou, her friends and family, including Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Common, Alfre Woodard, Cicely Tyson, Quincy Jones, Hillary Clinton, Louis Gossett, Jr., John Singleton, Diahann Carroll, Valerie Simpson, Random House editor Bob Loomis and Dr. Angelou’s son, Guy Johnson.

Martin Luther King Jr. was shot dead on Dr. Maya Angelou’s 40th birthday. It was her friend Jimmy, or James Baldwin as we know and revere him, that pulled the late writer out of her devastated stupor, dragging her to a party and encouraging to tell her personal truth through the written word. Those words became her critically acclaimed autobiography, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” It was a book that would forever change the landscape of American literature, redefining what was acceptable for Black women to talk about publically. Two and a half decades later, Dr. Angelou extended that simple act of kindness when she comforted a young artist on a film set. This young man was in turmoil, nearly suffocating to death under a rage that he could not contain; we knew him as the great Tupac Shakur.

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