As various communities across the world reflect on what late Renaissance Woman Maya Angelou meant to them -- hope, opportunity, freedom, to many -- writer Tim Cavanaugh at the National Review Online has chosen to remember Angelou for that one time she talked about guns. In a piece titled "R.I.P., Maya Angelou, Proud Gun Owner and User" in the National Review, he references a Time magazine interview, writing:
Angelou also emerged very late in life as an off-hand supporter of the right to bear arms. In a 2013 interview with Time magazine’s Belinda Luscombe, the ancient poetess talked Star Trek and death (“I’ll probably be writing when the Lord says, ‘Maya, Maya Angelou, it’s time’”), but she recounted how she used a gun for home defense:
Did you inherit your mother’s fondness for guns?
I like to have guns around. I don’t like to carry them.
Have you ever fired your weapon?
I was in my house in North Carolina. It was fall. I heard someone walking on the leaves. And somebody actually turned the knob. So I said, “Stand four feet back because I’m going to shoot now!” Boom! Boom! The police came by and said, “Ms. Angelou, the shots came from inside the house.” I said, “Well, I don’t know how that happened.”
Cavanaugh, who describes Angelou's recitation of "On the Pulse of Morning" at Bill Clinton's inauguration as "a slog at the time," understands that she had achieved "megastardom" but doesn't seem to really understand why. He mutes her status as a civil rights icon to "a widely recognized cultural ambassador who advocated for participatory literature" and trivializes her books as dispensing "sound if unspectacular wisdom of the type that is said to boost childrens’ self-esteem."
Thank goodness that thousands of others, including Oprah, Bill Clinton and Martin Luther King Jr., found something more spectacular in Angelou's work than Cavanaugh did.