Maya Angelou

WashU played host to the great public intellectual, poet, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou on ______.

Her presentation was a call to become familiar with the great body of literature, especially poetry, created by African-Americans, because… “It’s so beautiful, so seldom cherished, so little known, almost never taught.” Her encouragement came in the way of reading lines from some of her favorite romantic poets, including Georgia Douglas Johnson and Jessie Redmon Fauset.

“While you’re in this fabulous institution, Washington University, I would encourage all of you – black and white, Asians and Hispanics, native Americans – to avail yourselves of the library. Study…learn some of the black American literature. It will stand you in good stead in years to come.”

Some pearls of wisdom:

“Having undergone experiences so bizarre, crushing, ugly, they couldn’t be included in the film “Roots,” they would have burned holes through the foil in the television. Today, we are upwards of 30 million. How have we survived? I suggest the literature. I believe it’s available to all of us to encourage us to survive…and to thrive…and to thrive with some passion, compassion, humor and style.”