Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou: Keynote Address

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou: Keynote Address

Poet, educator, historian, actor, playwright, civil-rights activist. In 1981, she was appointed to a lifetime position as the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. Her most recent work is hallelujah! the welcome table.

Event Details

2006 - 2007 Season

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Speaker Bio

Maya Angelou is hailed as a Renaissance woman and considered a national treasure. When she delivered her dedicatory poem at the Presidential Inauguration in 1993, she became only the second poet in U.S. history to have the honor of writing and reciting original work at an Inauguration. She also recited work at the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the United Nations.

Angelou has authored 12 best-selling books. Nominated for best supporting actress in 1977 for her role as Nyo Boto (Grandmother) in the made-for-TV movie Roots, she began her acting career in 1954, playing Ruby in the European tour of Porgy and Bess. She has written and produced a number of plays, documentaries, and TV programs, including the 30 half-hour segments of Humanities Through The Arts, and the miniseries Three Way Choice.

Angelou is fluent in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and West African Fanti, and the list of her accomplishments is varied and global: modern dance teacher in Rome and Tel Aviv; coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (by request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.); associate editor of the Arab Observer (Cairo, Egypt) and feature editor of African Review (Accra, Ghana); assistant administrator and teacher at the University of Ghana’s School of Music and Drama; Institute for the Study of Human Systems panelist (Zermatt, Switzerland).

She was appointed to the American Revolution Bicentennial Council by President Gerald Ford, and to the Presidential Commission for International Women’s Year by President Jimmy Carter. She is the recipient of scores of honors and awards, including the National Medal of Arts in 2000 and an honorary doctorate from Rollins.

Discussion Topics

Developed by the Angelou faculty team for her campus visit

  • What intellectual tools can we give our students to help them become responsible global citizens?
  • In 1961, John F. Kennedy put forward a quote that illustrated his idea of global as well as national citizenship: “For those to whom much is given, much is required.” What do you think is the individual’s responsibility to the larger community? Is it not enough to raise our children well, to try to educate our students about inequality, poverty, and injustice, or do we—as individuals and citizens—need to do more than that?
  • We have minority students/staff/faculty on this campus who deal daily with isolation within our community. There are also class divides—students divided from each other, faculty from staff, and faculty from faculty. Do you have any suggestions for creating a community here at Rollins where all voices are not only heard but also appreciated and respected? How do we create a Rollins where all see themselves reflected in some way? How do we transcend issues of power and privilege?
  • You have seen the role of women change in your lifetime and have had an unusual and varied journey yourself. Do you see women as having particular or different responsibilities or roles than men in academia and the larger culture? Do women have particular responsibilities to each other? And, if so, might you talk about those roles or responsibilities?


Dr. Linda Tavernier-Almada, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and African-American Studies

Dr. Jill Jones, Associate Professor of English