The passing of Maya Angelou has caused mourning and reflection around the world, but also a cause for celebrating her life and accomplishments. The acclaimed author and poet passed quietly in her North Carolina home on May 28th in the same town she taught at for more than three decades as a Wake Forest University professor. She was 86.
While much of the nation was saddened by the loss of a legendary artist and humanitarian, Pace CEO and friend to the late writer, Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, remembered good times. She once gave Angelou a collection of poems written by Eric Motley, Vice President and Executive Director of National Programs at the Aspen Institute. Motley recounts the day McElveen-Hunter and civil rights leader and businessman Bob Brown brought him to Angelou’s home on a visit to Greensboro back in 2007. Approaching the yellow brick house in Winston-Salem with McElveen-Hunter and Brown, Motely recalls,
“I saw words coming out of the chimney, growing in the front garden, and climbing the barks of trees. In the brightness of the day and ‘on the pulse of morning’ I had arrived at the place of my beginning…
Sitting before her, I felt her at my side. She all of a sudden became my guide. Yet, in all of my education I had forgotten that Maya Angelou was not just another poet. She was much more. She was the Oracle. We return to her time and time again, over and over, because she reminds us of our capacity to sing even when the shadows fall. She sings because she is happy. She sings because she is free.
I will never forget that afternoon tutorial. It lasted just a little over two hours, but it seemed a full day. Nor will I fail to remember the majesty of her poise and the strength of her voice and the brightness of her eyes.”
A digital guestbook page created by the university contains comments by many former students of Angelou. Her website reminds visitors that “Dr. Angelou’s words and actions continue to stir our souls, energize our bodies, liberate our minds, and heal our hearts.”
A memorial service will be live streamed from Wake Forest University on Saturday, June 7 beginning at 10 a.m. You can watch the event here on the university’s website.
You can read the full story of McElveen-Hunter, Brown and Motley’s visit with Angelou here.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons