New Maya Angelou Documentary to Debut on PBS for Black History

New Maya Angelou Documentary to Debut on PBS for Black History

Maya Angelou’s poem Still I Rise remains a triumphant anthem of transcendence over adversity. Now, a documentary about her life embracing that theme is scheduled to debut nationwide Tuesday, Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. on PBS. American Masters – Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise is heralded as the first documentary that chronicles the life story of the phenomenal Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, author, and civil rights activist.

The film spans Angelou’s life, from her birth in 1928 to her death in 2014. It features interviews with family and friends, including appearances by Oprah Winfrey and Guy Johnson (Angelou’s son). The documentary “reflects on how the events of history, culture, and the arts shaped Angelou’s life and how she, in turn, helped shape our own worldview through her autobiographical literature and activism,” said the film’s co-director and co-producer Rita Coburn Whack in a released statement.

Related Story: Surviving A Funding Shortfall Maya Angelou Documentary Heads To PBS

A Phenomenal Woman


As a singer, dancer, activist, poet and writer, Angelou inspired generations with lyrical modern African American thought that pushed boundaries. She is best known for her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Random House). “It was a unique privilege to be the first filmmakers to tell Dr. Angelou’s full story and exciting to uncover stories that most people hadn’t heard,” said the documentary’s co-director and co-producer Bob Hercules in a released statement.

The documentary premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival to critical acclaim. It won the Audience Award at AFI Docs and was featured at film festivals worldwide, winning 17 awards on three continents, as well as receiving an NAACP Image Award nomination. American Masters — Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise is part of a full line-up of Black History Month programming on PBS to celebrate the diversity of America with documentaries and specials that highlight the African American experience.

President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and Dr. Angelou


PBS Distribution will release And Still I Rise on DVD on Feb. 21–the day Malcolm X was assassinated back in 1965. He and Angelou’s work together along with her relationship with James Baldwin are discussed in the film. A digital HD version will be available on Feb. 22. Features include new interviews with Dr. Angelou (filmed just before her death in 2014), Common, President Bill Clinton, Secretary Hillary Clinton, and others.

A special preview event for the new documentary was recently held at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York where Angelou’s grandson Colin Johnson, co-founder and principal of Caged Bird Legacy L.L.C., presented Secretary Clinton and President Clinton with a plaque of Angelou’s inauguration poem, On The Pulse of Morning, one of several excerpted poems that flew on the Orion Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) Dec. 5, 2014.

Check out the footage of the Clintons’ remarks.

Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise Preview Event

Watch LIVE! President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton are presented with a plaque of Dr. Maya Angelou's inauguration poem, "On The Pulse of Morning," Both President Clinton and Secretary Clinton will give remarks during the livestream from Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library

Posted by American Masters on Thursday, February 16, 2017