In her memoirs, Maya Angelou explored how race and gender affected her life. Her first memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published in 1969 and describes growing up in the segregated South. It includes the story of how, as a child, Angelou was raped by her mother's boyfriend. After the rape, she withdrew into herself and went through a long period of not speaking.
This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. The Cannes Film Festival, the most important international film festival, concluded this past weekend. Getting an award at Cannes gives a new film the kind of pedigree that helps ensure good international distribution. FRESH AIR's critic-at-large, John Powers, who is also the film critic for Vogue, reported on the festival, as he's done many years.
China's economic engagement in Africa can be measured in dollars — for instance, the $71 million airport expansion contract in Mali, funded by American foreign aid, that went to a Chinese construction firm.
More remarkably, it can be measured in people: More than a million Chinese citizens have permanently moved to Africa, buying land, starting businesses and settling among local populations.
The smooth baritone Herb Jeffries, who recorded the 1940 hit "Flamingo" with the Duke Ellington orchestra, was also the first black singing cowboy on the silver screen, nicknamed the Bronze Buckaroo. Herb Jeffries died Sunday at age of about 100. His exact age is uncertain. Terry Gross spoke with Herb Jeffries in 1995.
A lot of things had to come together to turn Thomas Piketty's controversial Capital in the Twenty-First Century into the tome of the season. There's its timeliness, its surprising accessibility and the audacity of its thesis, that capitalism inevitably leads to greater concentrations of wealth at the very top.
Fresh Air Weekendhighlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors, and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:
This is FRESH AIR. I'm TV critic David Bianculli. Sunday night, HBO presents a new TV version of "The Normal Heart," Larry Kramer's 1985 play about the early years of the AIDS crisis. Kramer himself wrote the screenplay adaptation, which stars Mark Ruffalo and Julia Roberts. Almost 30 years later, the drama is both presented and viewed differently. It almost has to be.