Hearing of Maya Angelou’s death took me back to her appearance here in 2003 at the Women’s Expo sponsored by The State. It was an important event, and everyone knew it. I was pleased to bring my parents from Georgia to hear her speak.
She must have been about 75 and she moved slowly. But when she walked onto the stage at the Colonial Life Arena (without her cane, as I recall), she commanded everyone's attention. In her rich, mellifluous voice, Dr. Angelou told us that each one of us matters, very much, and we should not allow anyone to make us feel differently. Challenges are just something to overcome, and we should all rise to be the best people we can be. I will never forget her.
A few years later, she spoke at my son’s freshman orientation at Duke University, as she did every year. Another generation of my family learned from her wisdom.
At a reception after her talk that day in Columbia, Dr. Angelou posed for photos. To one young woman, she said, “Stand up straight. Someday you’ll be showing this picture to your grandchildren.” No doubt, she was right.