The woman at the center of a widely debated clip featuring Maya Angelou has broken her silence on the viral video.

According to The Associated Press, Kim Watts, who was 20 years old during a 1989 interaction with the late renowned poet, says she understands why Angelou corrected her almost 30 years ago. 

“I wasn’t thinking about that in the moment,” Watts, now 49, said. “I like that this conversation, though, is focused on respect. Given my age now, I can see both sides of it.”

The San Francisco Bay Area educator appeared on the People Are Talking talk show. The then-college student sat in the audience to view a taping of Angelou for a class trip. When she was given the opportunity to ask the 62-year-old a question, she referred to her as "Maya" instead of using an honorific title such as "Mrs. Angelou" or "Miss Angelou."  

“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 continued. “I remember feeling like, oh my gosh I insulted one of my icons, a person I look up to.”

Since Watts does not have her own Twitter account, her friends and family told her about the debates surrounding Angelou's response.

"I’m not Maya, I’m 62 years old," Angelou said in the viral clip. "I’ve lived so long and tried so hard that a young woman like you, or any other, has no license to come up to me and call me by my first name. That’s first. Also, because at the same time, I’m your mother, I’m your auntie, I’m your teacher, I'm your professor. See?”

Angelou is later seen apologizing for being "short" with the young woman. 

As Blavity previously reported, conversations around the video ranged from users calling the author's words elitist while others felt Watts was being disrespectful to the artist who was 40 years her senior. 

Watts says she was adopted as a child and raised by white parents who did not enforce the use of the title tradition with elders in her life.


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