Maya Angelou will be the next featured speaker in the Great Names at Hamilton
Hailed as "one of the great voices of contemporary literature," Angelou haswritten 11 best-selling books, including the autobiographical, I Know Whythe Caged Bird Sings, which was nominated for the National Book Award in1970. A critical and popular success, the book stayed on The New YorkTimes best-seller list for two years.
Among her poetry, Angelou's Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water `Fore IDiiie was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Her poem for President BillClinton's inauguration, "On the Pulse of Morning" won a Grammy Award for "bestspoken word." In 1995, she recited the poem "A Brave and Startling Truth" atthe 50th anniversary celebration of the United Nations.
Recognized and respected as an actress, playwright, producer and director,Angelou was nominated for an Emmy Award for her performance in Roots.Her screenplay Georgia, Georgia was the first by a black woman to befilmed. She has written and produced several prize-winning documentaries,including, Afro-Americans in the Arts, a PBS special that received theGolden Eagle Award.
Born Marguerite Johnson in 1928, Angelou was raised in segregated ruralArkansas. She has had a variety of occupations in what she describes as "aroller-coaster life." In the late 1950s, she joined the Harlem Writers Guildin New York City. She married a South African freedom fighter and lived inCairo, Egypt, then spent several years in Ghana working as the features editorof The African Review and teaching at the University of Ghana.
The recipient of over 30 honorary degrees and countless other awards, Angelouis fluent in French, Spanish, Italian and West African Fanti. She wasappointed by President Gerald Ford to the American Revolution BicentennialAdvisory Council, and by President Jimmy Carter to the National Commission forInternational Women's Year. In 1981, she was appointed to a lifetime positionas the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake ForestUniversity.
Angelou's presentation in the Great Names series follows talks byNobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, political strategists Mary Matalin and James Carville,and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell. Whileon campus, she will participate in a class and meet students and faculty fordinner and a reception.