Check Out this Amazing Photo of Maya Angelou and Amiri Baraka: There’s a Crazy Story to go with it

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By Connie K. Grier

According to, Amiri Baraka is one of the most respected and widely published African-American writers in the United States. During the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties, Baraka wrote about the frustration and anger of African-Americans and used his writings to combat racism. He is counted among the few influential political activists who have spent most of their lives fighting for the rights of African-Americans.

While Maya Angelou shared her condolences at the passing of Amiri Baraka, she also took a moment to set the record straight on the dance between herself and her friend in Huffington Post’s Black Voices.  According to writer Melissa Jeltsen, in 1991, both Maya Angelou and Amiri Baraka were in attendance at a tribute for the late Langston Hughes.  As they danced, photographer Chester Higgins Jr. captured their moves.

The picture was then run in the New York Times, with a caption underneath that described the two friends, not as dancing, but as  “performing an African Custom of ancestral return.”


This was news to Ms. Angelou.  She then decided to check in with her friend to see what HE thought they were doing on the dance floor…

“No, I was doing the jitterbug”, was Mr. Baraka’s reply to her question

She then replied, “ I was doing the Texas hop”.

It would seem that not even national treasures are safe from culturally laced assumptions.  Every movement of the hips is not a sway beckoning the Motherland.  Sometimes it IS just a dance!

Rest In Peace, Mr. Baraka.


  1. Michel

    January 18, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Sometimes people should not open their mouths… because they really let you know how Stupid and Ignorant they are. And what is really amazing…some of them think they know more about Black Culture then Blacks know about themselves. Thus always re-defining, misinforming or just lying about what we do and who we really are.
    Which means That Africans in America need to Study their own History, Style, Swag and especially Their Own Culture and inform folk so at least they won’t make up Bullshit and pass it on as being reliable information.

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