The woman on the receiving end of Maya Angelou’s stern comeback in a vintage video clip that recently went viral has responded to the attention the incident has been getting.
Kim Watts was only 20 years old when her class visited the San Francisco studio where Angelou was filming talk show People Are Talking. Watts seemingly offended the legendary poet by using her first name when asking Angelou about interracial dating. Watts, now 49 years old, was then chided by Angelou for a perceived lack of courtesy.
Watts, who was adopted and raised a by a white couple as a child, said she was not brought using courtesy titles for elders. Since abiding by the unspoken rule was not a tradition she was accustomed to, Watts said she was surprised at Angelou’s response.
“Her response threw me off. It was a little awkward for me, but at the same time it was like, ‘Oh my God, this is Maya Angelou,’” Watts told The Associated Press. “I remember feeling like, oh my gosh I insulted one of my icons, a person I look up to.”
“I wasn’t thinking about that in the moment,” she explained.
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Watts was initially unaware of the popularity the resurfaced clip was gaining because she does not have a Twitter account. Friends alerted her to what was happening, and she now appreciates the discussions that are happening because of it.
“I like that this conversation, though, is focused on respect. Given my age now, I can see both sides of it,” she said.