Melanie Masterton Sherazi

Melanie Masterton Sherazi is a Postdoctoral Instructor of modern and contemporary American and African American literature in the Humanities Division at the California Institute of Technology. She is currently writing a book about African American cultural workers in 1950s and 1960s Rome and their collaborations with Italian artists and filmmakers.


Maya Angelou on the Road with Porgy and Bess in Cold War Italy

In her autobiography Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (1976), Maya Angelou writes that when she was offered the role of Ruby in a 1954 tour of Porgy and Bess that was leaving for Italy in four days’ time, she replied, “I don’t have a passport.”[1] She was assured that this would not pose a problem, since the tour, an Everyman Opera Production directed by Robert Breen, “[was] being sponsored by the State Department.” Angelou thought immediately of “the school [she] had attended which was on the House Un-American Committee list” (Singin’, 128).