Poet Inspires in Message of Hope 5,000 Give Angelou Standing Ovation

By Taylor, Alliniece | The Florida Times Union, September 12, 1997 | Go to article overview

Poet Inspires in Message of Hope 5,000 Give Angelou Standing Ovation


Taylor, Alliniece, The Florida Times Union


Author and poet Maya Angelou melded stories into songs and

weaved songs into poems without pausing as she spoke at a free

event at the University of North Florida arena last night.

Angelou, who received a standing ovation from 5,000

spectators before uttering a word, entered and ended singing

from an African-American spiritual, "When it looked like the sun

wouldn't shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the clouds."

Her theme for the evening was how poetry can serve as a

rainbow in the clouds, proof that "even at the dreariest time,

you can see hope."

And though she showed pride in her black heritage and

womanhood through the poems of strength she recited, the

69-year-old heralded tolerance among the races, among "white

brothers and sisters and white nephews and nieces.

"We have the right and the privilege to call each other

brother and sister," she said. "Human beings are more alike than

we are unalike."

Known as an actress and former singer-dancer, Angelou

performed the parts of characters while reciting African

proverbs, her own poetry and the work of William Shakespeare and

other authors. She performed as part of UNF's Presidential

Lecture Series.

Angelou said Paul Lawrence Dunbar's I Know Why the Caged Bird

Sings , which she adopted as the name for one of her four

autobiographies, was written for her and for everyone.

As was Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice .

"When I left Stamps, Ark. …

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