The woman that was corrected by Maya Angelou for calling her by her first name in a clip that went viral has come forward.
Last week, a snippet of the late Angelou’s appearance on a talk show called People Are Talking resurfaced and sparked a debate via social media about how to address your elders. In the video, a member of the audience asked Angelou a question without calling her Miss or Dr., which didn’t sit well with her.
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“I’m not ‘Maya.’ I’m 62 years old,” she said. “I have lived so long and tried so hard that a young woman like you, or any other, you have no license to come up to me and call me by my first name. That’s first,” she said to claps from the audience. “Also, because at the same time, I am your mother, I am your auntie, I’m your teacher, I’m your professor. You see?”
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After the clip went viral, the woman in the video, Kim Watts, found out through her family and friends since she doesn’t have Twitter.
“Her response threw me off,” Watts told the Associated Press. “It was a little awkward for me, but at the same time it was like, oh my God this is Maya Angelou,” “I remember feeling like, oh my gosh I insulted one of my icons, a person I look up to.”
Watts, who was a 20-year-old college student at the time, went on a class trip to San Francisco for a visit to the talk show. She said she was adopted and raised by a white couple and wasn’t taught to address elders with a prefix. While there were some folks who felt Angelou was unjustifiably harsh, Watts, now 49, said she understands where she was coming from.
“I wasn’t thinking about that in the moment,” Watts continued. “I like that this conversation, though, is focused on respect. Given my age now, I can see both sides of it.”
Angelou later apologized for her tone.
If you didn’t see the clip, watch it below.
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