IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Maya Angelou on respect: Women are not the 'b' word, and blacks are not the 'n' word

In the eloquent language that has been a hallmark of her long and impressive career, poet, journalist, and activist Maya Angelou had harsh words for those on th

In the eloquent language that has been a hallmark of her long and impressive career, poet, journalist, and activist Maya Angelou had harsh words for those on the right who've been disrespectful of President Obama.

"It's terrible," she said on Tuesday's PoliticsNation. "It just shows that there are a lot of people that want us to continue to be these yet-to-be-United States. It is so stupid."

Angelou finds the disrespectful language even more disturbing in comparison to President Obama's inclusive message. "He's shown himself to be intelligent, and that doesn't mean educated, nor does it mean intellectual, but really intelligent," she said. "It means he knows enough to care about everybody, to be the president of everybody, white people's president, black people, Asian, Spanish speaking, Native-American, gay and straight, president of everybody."

"And so when I see those people who want to continue to keep us polarized I think how stupid. Are we really going to continue to be that thick? That dense?"

That same spirit of inclusiveness drives one of her new projects, her Black History Month special, "Telling Our Stories." This year the special, in its third year, features stories from Kofi Annan, Jennifer Hudson, and Alicia Keys.

"We're more alike than we are unalike. When you know that, then you can make a relationship that helps us all to be kinder, truer to each other, more courteous."

She also worked on the project to help explain to the younger generation the efforts of those who've forged the path, for those who look alike and those who look different. "Too many young black men and women don't know that they've already been paid for, don't know some of the great men and women who have lived in this world and paid for them already," she explained. "It's important for young black men and women. I think it's imperative for young white men and women. You see, only equals make friends. Any other relationship is out of order."

At 84, Angelou remains connected to the younger generation through her work as a professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. "I continue to say to young people, You are cared for," she said. "They are worth everything. Women are better than being called the "b" word, and blacks are better than being called the 'n' word."

"No matter what your race group, no matter what your age group, you are better than being called the word that would deny your humanity."

Angelou also weighed in on the recent debate over gun violence. "We have the right to respect and protect our children and we ought to do so and we ought to look at the guns that allow the mad man or the mad woman to kill off 200 of our children or fifty our our children, or twenty or one," she said. "We have to look at that and say, Do we really have enough nerve to say stop it, stop it. This won't do."

You can download Maya Angelou's Black History Month Special 2013 "Telling Our Stories" on iTunes.