Maya Angelou Has a Message for the American People

Obama campaign scrambles to shore up voter turnout with poet
Maya Angelou (Talbot Troy/Creative Commons)

Maya Angelou (Talbot Troy/Creative Commons)


The Obama campaign has added a new member to the rolls of celebrities turned campaign surrogates: Maya Angelou.

In a campaign email sent Wednesday, the poet tells supporters not to “fool around with this.”

“It is your job to vote,” she writes.

President Obama awarded Angelou the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

The full text of the email:

Dear fellow American,

I am not writing to you as a black voter, or a woman voter, or as a voter who is over 70 years old and six feet tall. I am writing to you as a representative of this great country — as an American.

It is your job to vote. It is your responsibility, your right, and your privilege. You may be pretty or plain, heavy or thin, gay or straight, poor or rich.

But remember this: In an election, every voice is equally powerful — don’t underestimate your vote. Voting is the great equalizer.

Your vote might make the difference. Don’t fool around with this — get the information you need to vote in this election.

As a country, we can scarcely perceive the magnitude of our progress.

My grandmother and my uncle experienced circumstances that would break your heart. When they went to vote, they were asked impossible questions like, “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” When they couldn’t answer, they couldn’t vote.

I once debated with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. about whether an African American would ever be elected president. He believed it would happen within the next 40 years at the time — I believed it would never happen within my lifetime.

I have never been happier to have been proven wrong.

And since President Barack Obama’s historic election, we’ve moved forward in courageous and beautiful ways. More students can afford college, and more families have access to affordable health insurance. Women have greater opportunities to get equal pay for equal work.

Yet as Rev. King wrote, “All progress is precarious.”

So don’t sit on the sidelines. Don’t hesitate. Don’t have any regrets. Vote.

Go, rise up, and find out what you need to do to vote and ask your friends to join you. We must make our voices heard:

Your vote is not only important. It’s imperative.

Thank you,

Dr. Maya Angelou

P.S. — Not on Facebook? Send your friends to — don’t let technology get in the way of your incredible duty to our democracy.