Before Thanksgiving, the Laura Ingraham show had great fun with a Today segment on November 16. As part of a series on "Today Gives Thanks," news anchor Ann Curry expressed her deep love and appreciation for Maya Angelou, the liberal black poetess who delivered the mawkish "rock, river, tree" poem at Bill Clinton's first inauguration.
NATALIE MORALES, co-host: This morning we wrap up our special series "Giving Thanks Today" with Ann's turn to show her gratitude to a great woman. Ann.
ANN CURRY: That's right. You know, words can change your life, and listening to the words of Dr. Maya Angelou in 2002 changed mine. If you're not familiar with Dr. Angelou, you need to stop what you're doing and sit down and listen.A renaissance woman, she is a writer, performer, teacher and an American Poet Laureate...
Hold up a minute: Doctor Angelou? Even Angelou's website doesn't have her earning a bachelor's degree, let alone a doctorate, although she's been offered many honorary degrees at colleges. NBC's official transcript described her throughout as "Dr. Angelou." Let's fast-forward a few seconds:
CURRY: Everybody needs love.
ANGELOU: ...in the world who--wants to be loved and wants to have the unmitigated goal to accept love in return. Everybody.
CURRY: So if we're all the same, why is that we waste so much time feeling separated and lonely and shy and insecure around each other?
ANGELOU: Because we're so new. We don't really use much of this machine. We don't think. People that say, ‘Oh, well I don't like Chinese people, my daddy never did.' Wait a minute, beg your pardon? ‘Oh, no, white people, you can't trust them because my grandmother said so.' Wait a minute. Can you dare to think for yourself? Suppose you really could lay down the burden of ignorance before you left your bedroom. Suppose you actually put it down like a bucket and said, `I will not take you a step further.'
CURRY: It's hard to do, though, if you're not used to not carrying that bucket.
ANGELOU: I know. But, you know, you have to learn--I don't think anybody's born with courage. I think we develop it. So one of the ways I encourage my students, and anybody else who will listen, to develop courage is first, stop allowing racial pejoratives in your house. Just stop it. Words are things, and I'm afraid of vulgarity, and it's vulgar. So I don't know what it's leaving on the walls and in the air for the children to breathe.
CURRY: What's the lesson, above all others, that you wish to teach?
ANGELOU: Probably the most important lesson is to know that you have been loved. You may think that, `I could live and die and the world would never know I was even here.' The truth is, to exist at all, you have been loved. Whether the ancestors came from eastern Europe trying to escape the pogroms and little and large murders, or if they came from Africa unwillingly, lying spoon-fashioned in the filthy hatches of slave ships, in each other's excrement and urine, they have paid for each one of us. If you can--if you can just ingest that little piece of truth. Not facts. Facts can obscure the truth. But the truth, if you can ingest that, suddenly some part of you is liberated. I have been loved. If you can--that is one of the great lessons to me.
This last nugget isn't completely foolish, but it does put "excrement and urine" awfully close to "ingest," which inspired giggles on the Ingraham show. Now back to where we left off:
MORALES: What a powerful message. And, Ann, Maya Angelou is standing by in North Carolina this morning to talk with us.
CURRY: Maya, you have no idea how those words liberated me, and not only changed me, but freed me for the life I've had since. And I've always wanted to tell you, on behalf of all the people who, like me, were changed, thank you so much for that honesty and truth.
ANGELOU: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you for telling me and telling me in front of millions of people. So I don't--I don't have to call--try calling up my cousins and friends and saying, `You know what happened? I just got thanked.'
CURRY: I know. But it...
ANGELOU: Thank you.
CURRY: You know, you're welcome. And--but mostly, I think the message to you is we thank you, because, you know, you've written 12 books, including "I Know why the Caged Bird Sings." You've been a teacher, you've been such a force. You--you've won a Grammy. You are, you know, the first woman to be a director. I mean, you have set a bar. And now, you are facing an enormous birthday come April.
She'll be 80. After marveling over that, Curry went deep into the syrup tank -- which is one enormous reason she didn't take over for Katie Couric -- and even called Angelou "my darling."
CURRY: What do you wish to be your--the mark you have left on us? I can tell you the mark you've left on me. But what is the mark you want to leave on the earth?
ANGELOU: I would encourage us to take time with each other. Courage, it's the most important of all the virtues, because without it you can't practice any other virtue consistently. You can be kind and true and fair and generous and loving erratically, but to be that thing. And so, it takes courage to stop a person and say, `Excuse me, what is your name? No, your last name. I don't just want to call you Tony, Jeffy, Staci with an "I." I mean, no, what is your name?'
ANGELOU: And then to have the courage to remember it, and a few hours later, the next day, call the person by his or her name. The person thinks, `He remembered me. She remembered my name.' Maybe that's just some glib, you know, gimmick, but I was remembered.
CURRY: Hmm. Well, you...
MORALES: So true.
CURRY: ...my darling, if you don't mind my saying in calling you darling...
ANGELOU: I thank you.
CURRY: ...you will be remembered throughout time.
ANGELOU: I thank you.
CURRY: And certainly, certainly by me. And I'm so, so grateful to ever have met you, and I'm -- and I'm grateful that we can share you with the world. Dr. Maya Angelou, I hope this is not the last time I speak to you. I will come down there, if you will let me, to come see you.
CURRY: So be well, be happy.
ANGELOU: Come, I will cook for you.
CURRY: Maya, thank you so much. We'll talk again.
ANGELOU: Thank you. Thank you very much for having me.
MORALES: Oh, we love her.
MORALES: And we'll be back. But first, this is Today on NBC.
Just imagine how Hillary Clinton must have felt like Ann Curry as Maya Angelou poetically shook her fist at the Military-Industrial Complex in her poem for Clinton's oath-taking:
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.