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Fenty flags Angelou letter in Southeast rec center controversy

Months later, Mayor Adrian Fenty is still being dogged by questions about why he did not meet with poet Maya Angelou and civil rights leader Dorothy Height. But this time, the mayor is pointing to fresh evidence that there were no hard feelings between the parties, citing a letter from the famous poet.

The latest questions came last week in an interview with NewsChannel 8's Bruce DePuyt, who said that even the mayor's allies were puzzled about why he did not meet with the two women.

Angelou and Height, who died last month at 98, had tried to make peace between the mayor and former first lady Cora Masters Barry when the city tried to evict her non-profit from a District-operated recreation center. At the time, Fenty said he was unable to coordinate his schedule with the two.

When asked about it last week, Fenty said in the TV interview, "I don't usually get into the who, what, where, why and when about meeting with people. I think it's disrespectful to their own personal privacy."

But Fenty said it was "a very regrettable thing that people were trying to get into why these people weren't being paid attention to when in fact we were talking to them and were trying to meet with them," he said, praising Height as a "fantastic world citizen."

Fenty also mentioned the letter from Angelou.

In the September missive, Angelou writes, "I know that my name has been used in varying ways, but while I am a friend of Mrs. Cora Masters Barry, and a supporter of her great efforts, I in no way meant to be a threat or a negative figure to you in this matter."

"I want you to know that I have not spoken to the press and it was never my intent to bogart or jam you against a wall."

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By Ann Marimow  |  May 17, 2010; 1:35 PM ET
Categories:  2010 District Election , Ann E. Marimow , Mayor Fenty  | Tags: Adrian Fenty, Dorothy Height, Maya Angelou  
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He was trying to meet with them? As I recall when it occurred, Fenty said he wasn't aware of any meeting scheduled.

Posted by: candycane1 | May 17, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

That sounds like an apology for the fuss made by the media. However, had he made time in his schedule to meet with them, or used his technology to meet with them by Skype or video conferencing, it would not have been so bad. People can understand scheduling conflicts, but they can also recognize passive aggressive behavior and that's what he was exhibiting. The fact that he didn't try harder to meet with Maya Angelou and Dr. Dorothy Height was secondary to the fact that this was just another one of his public stubborn moments.

Posted by: Carole5520 | May 17, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

There is no reason these two icons should have had to resort to technology (e.g., Skype) to accommodate this arrogant jerk. Only fenty in his arrogance would cite Ms. Angelou's letter as an exculpation of his dismissive snub. Ms. Angelou was being the class act she is in writing the letter. fenty, however, was once again showing his inner boor.

Posted by: schooletal | May 17, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it odd that neither Height nor Angelou had/have any problem at all speaking with the President of the United States, yet, have to result to begging to meet with the Mayor of one of the smallest cities in the nation. One of Americas most divisive mayors.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | May 18, 2010 7:10 AM | Report abuse

It sounds like the letter was written to Fenty so that he would refrain from taking spiteful action against Cora Masters because of the media frenzy. It shows a recognition about how vindictive and immature our Mayor can be. There is absolutely no way to make this right, and Fenty should stop trying!

Posted by: tacard1 | May 18, 2010 8:31 AM | Report abuse

If I remember correctly he sent a tweet on the “scheduling conflict”. A darn tweet regarding not being able to meet these timeless and classic icons. Here’s why his excuse and “we found a letter” from Dr. Maya Angelou is pure BS.

Fenty is a media ho. Image is everything to him. His usually out in front of a camera giving a news conference or at the very least sends out a press release apologizing. He did neither and as the story grew legs he thought it would just go away and never took into consideration the serious political blow back that would come.

Let’s also look at the fact that he waited until she was in a coma to meet with her. So, although he missed the two meetings why not make it up to them by scheduling another one? Then taken a whole bunch a pictures (which he loves to do) and made sure his children their and had a chance to be in the presence of greatness.

We will not forget what you did Gestapo Fenty!

Posted by: thelildiva4u | May 18, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

He just needs to shut up on this one. Nothing he does will smoothe it over. If Maya Angelou sent him a letter and stated that she never talked to the press and that she never meant to jam him against the wall, then I'm sure her letter was meant for him and not the press. The fact that it made the press is an indication that he learned nothing from his grave mistake and that he has taken this opportunity to once again disrespect such a gracious lady.

Face it Fenty. You blew it. You missed a wonderful opportunity to have a conversation with two of America's icons. You missed a teachable moment to gain some wisdom and insight and you fail to see the errors of your poor judgement.

Mr. Fenty, if Maya Angelou really sent that letter, it was to you and for you. However you have "used" that letter and Maya Angelou to make yourself look better. Flash bulletin: It makes you look even worse.

Let Dr. Height rest in peace and leave Maya Angelou alone. The disrespect shown to them can never be a do-over.

Posted by: candycane1 | May 18, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

Somebody tell him that there is no cleaning this one up. He disrespected 2 of the most precious Black Women we had at that time, and as for being a Black Woman I will never forget that...letter or no letter!

Posted by: | May 18, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

What does the letter accomplish but to show what infinite class and hubris this very accomplish woman has. It does not show anything about Mayor Fenty.

In fact, it makes you dislike him a little bit more because they are such wonderful and measured people. They are great accomplished women who can hold an audience with heads of state --to show even more hubris in the face of this issue is legendary.

Posted by: 411Tibby | May 18, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Adrian Fenty is a very small, shallow sorry excuse for a man. This man-child could have met with these two great women, but he chose to hide. Then he shows a letter, to prove that there was an scheduling conflict. I think he was just a coward. The letter was addressed to him, not the public.

Posted by: fivetogo | May 19, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

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