Saturday, February 14, 2009

Maya Angelou drives 22 hours to New Orleans

University of New Orleans
February 12, 2009
New Orleans, La.

Dear Family and Friends,

When Maya Angelou appeared from behind a temporary partition, we knew tonight would be a life-long memory.

There were 2,000 people watching, but she made the event seem so much smaller. Her words convince some people that there is a wholly higher level of communicating.

She bends at the hip.

"Romance," she says. "Makes us who we are." Her voice is strong. It offsets the cane she uses to walk. Hers is a voice, people wouldn't mind listening to while on hold. If I could, I'd pay her to greet friends and colleagues leaving me voicemail.

"Hi, this is Maya Angelou, Robert isn't here."

Even her name is cool. Although I wiki'd her and found out Maya is a nickname and short for Mary Elizabeth. She drove 22 hours to New Orleans, she said, because airports make here anxious and she can't stand people hanging over her. And because she's always loved the City.

There isn't a shortage of doing good in New Orleans, though. It seems, that everywhere you look, more community meetings are held, more tutors read to kids, more protests about social injustice draw news media. The more I think about it, the more Maya Angelou gives a voice to the voiceless.

Because her success is about as unlikely as New Orleans success. Angelou is a child of the civil rights movement. She moved around, was raped as a young girl and became mute. A teacher and history's most famous wordsmiths revealed Angelou's voice she said.

She told New Orleans that there are always rainbows within the clouds. Coming from Maya Angelou, it didn't sound sappy at all.


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