Maya Angelou was raised in segregated rural Arkansas. She is a poet, historian, author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. She lectures throughout the United States and abroad and is Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina since 1981. She has published ten best selling books and numerous magazine articles earning her Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award nominations. At the request of President Clinton, she wrote and delivered a poem at his 1993 Presidential Inauguration. She also wrote and delivered a poem in 1995 titled 'A Brave and Startling Truth' in honor of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.
Dr. Angelou, who speaks French, Spanish, Italian and West African Fanti, began her career in drama and dance. She married a South African freedom fighter and lived in Cairo where she was editor of The Arab Observer, the only English-language news weekly in the Middle East. In Ghana, she was the feature editor of The African Review and taught at the University of Ghana. In the 1960's, at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ms. Angelou became the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She was appointed by President Gerald Ford to the Bicentennial Commission and by President Jimmy Carter to the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year.
On the evening of Monday, October 28th, 2002, this great woman visited the faculty, staff, students and guests at Rutgers University. To enter the little gymnasium on College Avenue, where the event would be held and would eventually house nearly 2,000 people, everyone needed a ticket, a ticket that I did not have because they had sold out so quickly. Nevertheless, I was determined to be there. So I adorned myself in the appropriate attire, left my apartment, and at 6:45 found myself on College Avenue in a line that spanned from the doors of the gym all the way to Au Bon Pain. No one...
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