Nearly 350 boxes of Dr. Maya Angelou’s literary work, personal papers, and letters, will be housed for public viewing at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the center announced last Friday.
The Schomburg Center, which serves as a research unit for the New York Public Library, will exhibit letters to Angelou from civil rights leader Malcolm X, professional and fan correspondence, and her handwritten revisions of the poem she wrote for President Bill Clinton’s inauguration, “On the Pulse of the Morning.”
These revisions, the 82-year-old poet told Associated Press in a phone interview, depict her thinking process as a writer.
“People all over the world use words; (then) the writer comes along and has to use these most-in-use objects, put together a few nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives . . . and pull them together and make them bounce, throw them against the wall and make people say, ‘I never thought of it that way.’ ”
Schomburg director Howard Dodson told the AP that the decision to house the papers in Harlem comes after a two-year negation and “is the essence that covers her literary career.”
The linkage of Harlem to its renaissance history made the decision simple for Angelou.
“It is the principal repository in the world of literature and affairs for, by and about African-Americans, in particular, and Africans anywhere in the diaspora.”
Angelou’s work joins the literary archive of other notable African-American figures who have defined history: singer Nat King Cole, playwright of A Raisin in the Sun, Lorraine Hansberry; tennis star Arthur Ashe.
Selected materials from the Angelou’s work will be on display until the entire collection is processed.