Editor’s Note: This is a blog post by diversity committee member De’Andra Roberts. This is the first effort in a part of the diversity committee’s initiative to celebrate diversity of thought, starting with Black History Month. Click here if you would like to help.
Dr. Maya Angelou was greeted with a standing ovation Tuesday when she performed at her sold out event for hundreds of LSU students, faculty and members of the community.
The program opened up with a performance by the LSU Gospel Choir. They sang gospel songs as well as old African-American spirituals such as “We Shall Overcome” that got the crowd ready and excited for what was to come.
Many thought they were just going to see Angelou recite poetry. They were in for a grand surprise.
Jonosha Jackson, runner-up of Mic with Maya poetry slam event, received a booming applause when she recited her poem “Fourth of July” for the crowd. It was emotional and powerful all at the same time. Opening up for Angelou was the winner of the Mic with Maya poetry slam event, Eric Couto, who started off by saying he wrote his poem, “The Caged Bird Rises,” as “a literary tribute to Dr. Maya Angelou.” And that it was. The poem was based on Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” and Couto did a fabulous job of incorporating that into his poem.
Then came the legend herself.
Angelou was extremely vibrant and had the audience laughing the entire night. She recited some of her favorite poems from some of her favorite poets such as Paul Laurence Dunbar, Mari Evans and Nikki Giovanni, as well as some of her own poems. She spoke of her life growing up as well as the struggle African Americans have faced and pushed past throughout history. Although she spoke about the Black struggle and success, she encouraged all of the racial diversities in the audience to succeed. There were people of all races and so many more, intrigued to hear what Maya Angelou had to say.
After the performance, Angelou left the crowd with a little piece of advice that many quoted all over social networking sites and days after: “Make sure you are a rainbow in someone else’s clouds.”