When Maya Angelou and James Baldwin Walked into a Bar…

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Maya Angelou recently donated 343 boxes of her papers to the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.  At the accompanying ceremony/talk, she told a story about a time that she and James Baldwin went to a bar in New York.  Baldwin picked her up in a limo and they went to a bar on 44th Street:

“A bar that smelled of Lysol and urine.”

Angelou went to the bar to get drinks while Baldwin went to the restroom.

A “big man, giant man” walked up to her, and inches from her face, told her he was going to buy her a drink. The man didn’t care whatsoever that Angelou was with someone or that she kept saying she didn’t want a drink.

He persisted.

When Baldwin – described by Angelou as “5’5”, if that – on wedges” – returned, he said to the burly guy, “You’ve been looking after her, have you?”

The man said yes.

Baldwin replied, “Well, now you’re dismissed, mother f—-er!”

Hearing the 82-year-old poet say that brought down the house.

That made me laugh out loud.

Text source: NYPL’s Wire, here.  Image source here.

-Bridget Crawford

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