American poet and author Maya Angelou discusses the trauma of her childhood rape, and how she ultimately triumphed in turning evil into a source for good.
Transcript: “When I was seven-and-a-half, I was raped. I won’t say severely raped, although rape is always severe. The rapist was a person very well known to my family. I was hospitalized. The rapist was let out of jail and was found dead that night, and the police suggested that the rapist had been kicked to death. I was seven-and-a-half. I thought that I had caused the man’s death, because I had spoken his name. That was my seven-and-a-half-year logic. So I stopped talking for five years. “Now to show you, again, how out of evil there can come good: In those five years, I read every book in the black school library. When I decided to speak, I had a lot to say, and many ways in which to say what I had to say. Out of this evil, which was a dire kind of evil, in my case I was saved in that muteness. You see? In that case I was saved in that muteness. I was able to draw from human thought, human disappointments and triumphs, enough to triumph myself.”