In this short interview, Maya Angelou remembers a conversation she had with the late rapper Tupac Shakur. On the set of the 1993 film, Poetic Justice, Angelou heard Shakur cursing, quite angry on the set. Pulling him aside, she asked to speak with him. Angelou recounts how her empathetic approach to his moment of anger brought him to tears.
During Angelou’s short, but poignant memory of an old conversation, we can be reminded of the power of genuine care for black girls and boys as they navigate through a society that has stacked the odds against them. In schools all over America, black boys and girls are suspended and punished at much higher rates than white children from similar infractions or classroom disruptions. What we can learn from Dr. Angelou here, is that what seems like anger in the moment can be a cry for help or an expression of pain when examined deeper.