Maya Angelou pens Obama e-mail


Maya Angelou. (Marvin Joseph/Washington Post)

Poet Maya Angelou has turned her talents on an unpoetic medium -- the campaign e-mail -- to urge supporters of President Obama to head to the polls. 

"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," she writes. "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." 

Angelou goes on to invoke the civil rights movement, bringing up a conversation she once had with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. over the possibility of a black president and reminding readers that African Americans had to fight for the right to vote. 

"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," she writes. "So don't sit on the sidelines. Don't hesitate. Don't have any regrets. Vote." 

The e-mail directs supporters to the campaign Facebook app, where they can ask friends in battleground states to commit to voting. 

The message is part of a concerted effort to drive Obama's base to the polls. Angelou's e-mail aims to inspire; a new Obama campaign ad goes for fear, suggesting that a repeat of the 2000 election, in which Vice President Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote to George W. Bush, is possible. 

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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