University tabs Maya Angelou to deliver convocation speech

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The Annual Fall Convocation, an assembly for the entire university, which launches and celebrates the academic year, is set for 10 a.m. Thursday, October 29 at the Richard B. Harrison Auditorium. The theme of Fall Convocation 2009 is “Celebrating 118 years of Making a Difference,” with Dr. Maya Angelou, acclaimed poet and author, as the keynote speaker. Fall Convocation was previously known as Founder’s Day Celebration; however, the name changed five years ago to Fall Convocation. “It is an official homecoming kickoff for alumni, in which we recognize athletes and alumni,” said Leonora Bryant, the Director of Alumni Affairs. Angelou is one of the most renowned and influential voices of our time. Laud as a renaissance woman, Angelou is a celebrated poet, novelist, producer, dramatist, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. Many may best know her for the intriguing and inspirational poem called “Phenomenal Woman,” and her 1970s coming-of-age book, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” This brought Angelou international recognition and a nomination for a National Book Award. An innovator in films and television, Angelou wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the 1972 film “Georgia, Georgia.” Her script, the first by an African American woman to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Today, she continues to appear on television and films including the landmark television adaption of “Roots” (1977), John Singleton’s Poetic Justice (1993) and the hilarious comedy, “Madea’s Family Reunion (2006). “I feel that’s a good thing because it would be very positive for our students,” said Adrian Ezell, a sophomore broadcast production major.Angelou is one of the most honored writers of her generation.  She has served on two presidential committees, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and has received 3 Grammy Awards. In addition, President Clinton requested that she compose a poem to read at his inauguration in 1993. Dr. Angelou’s reading of her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” was broadcast live around the world. Although Dr. Angelou has never attended college, she has received over 30 honorary degrees and is a Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. Additionally, the list of her published verse, non-fiction, and fiction now includes more than 30 bestselling titles. “I think it’s very exciting because I have never heard her in person before,” said Patrice War, a sophomore music performance major. Many seem very eager about this year’s keynote speaker. This event is free and open to the public; however, seating is limited and will be available on a first-come basis.  

  • Chelsea King