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Maya Angelou wouldn’t approve of this statue fiasco

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10.01.2020

You wouldn’t know it by the way her image has been treated by this city lately, but Maya Angelou loved San Francisco.

“In San Francisco, for the first time, I perceived myself as part of something,” Angelou wrote in her celebrated memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

Angelou goes on: “The city became for me the ideal of what I wanted to be as a grownup. Friendly but never gushing, cool but not frigid or distant, distinguished without the awful stiffness.”

I’ve been thinking about Angelou’s impression of San Francisco lately. In October, city officials insulted both Angelou and the artists who proposed to honor her when after conducting an exhaustive, two-year design process for a monument to the author outside the Main Library, they rejected all of the designs at the last minute.

“The three finalists from the first round all had great applications and proposals,” said Tal Quetone, a spokesman for the San Francisco Arts Commission. “There was just a different interpretation of the language of the proposal, or the understanding.”

That’s one way to spin last year’s debacle, which unfolded after a single San Francisco supervisor, Catherine Stefani, objected to the design from the selection panel’s finalist, Berkeley artist Lava Thomas.

Thomas’ elegant design featured Angelou’s face etched........

© San Francisco Chronicle