Elon’s 2012 Fall Convocation to feature Maya Angelou

All tickets for the program have been distributed; however, a wait line will be formed to seat a limited number of those without tickets.


Distinguished poet, author and “Renaissance woman” Maya Angelou will visit Elon University this fall for an evening event to share stories of her life and the people she has met, as well as recite her award-winning poetry.

All tickets for Fall Convocation, “An Evening with Maya Angelou,” have been distributed. You are invited to come to Alumni Gym on Thursday evening where you can wait in line and you may be seated on an as-available basis for ticketholders who do not show up for the event. Staff will start filling empty seats at approximately 7:25 p.m.

There is no processional line of march for this event. All attendees must have a ticket.

Angelou has served on two presidential committees, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011, the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in 2008, and has received three Grammy Awards. The list of her published verse, non-fiction, and fiction now includes more than 30 bestselling titles.

From Angelou’s official website:

Born April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Angelou was raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Ark. In Stamps, Angelou experienced the brutality of racial discrimination, but she also absorbed the unshakable faith and values of traditional African-American family, community, and culture.

As a teenager, she won her a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Francisco’s Labor School. At 14, she dropped out to become San Francisco’s first African-American female cable car conductor. She later finished high school, giving birth to her son, Guy, a few weeks after graduation.

In 1954 and 1955, Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. She studied modern dance with Martha Graham, danced with Alvin Ailey on television variety shows and, in 1957, recorded her first album, Calypso Lady. In 1958, she moved to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild, acted in the historic Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet’s The Blacks and wrote and performed Cabaret for Freedom.

In 1960, Angelou moved to Egypt where she served as editor of the English language weekly The Arab Observer. The next year, she moved to Ghana where she taught at the University of Ghana’s School of Music and Drama, worked as feature editor for The African Review and wrote for The Ghanaian Times.

During her years abroad, Angelou mastered French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African language Fanti. While in Ghana, she met with Malcolm X and, in 1964, returned to America to help him build his new Organization of African American Unity.

Shortly after her arrival in the United States, Malcolm X was assassinated, and the organization dissolved. Martin Luther King, Jr. soon asked Angelou to serve as Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. King’s assassination, falling on her birthday in 1968, left her devastated.

With the guidance of her friend, the novelist James Baldwin, she began work on the book that would become I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published in 1970 to international acclaim and enormous popular success.

A trailblazer in film 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 ever to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

She continues to appear on television and in films including the landmark television adaptation of Alex Haley’s Roots (1977) and John Singleton’s Poetic Justice (1993). In 1996, she directed her first feature film, Down in the Delta. In 2008, she composed poetry for and narrated the award-winning documentary The Black Candle, directed by M.K. Asante.

The celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist has received more than 30 honorary degrees and is Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University.