The Wichita Public Library will host a celebration of the life and legacy of Maya Angelou at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 27, at the Maya Angelou Northeast Branch Library, 3051 E. 21st Street. The celebration will include poetry, dance, song and memories from local friends and colleagues of Angelou who taught briefly at nearby Wichita State University.
Angelou, who died on May 28, was a celebrated poet, memoirist, novelist, educator, dramatist, producer, actress, historian, filmmaker, and civil rights activist. She was a champion of public libraries, in attendance during the opening of the Angelou Northeast Branch in late 1996.
Born on April 4th, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, Angelou was raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. During her youth, according to her acclaimed autobiography, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings,” she overcame racial discrimination, endured child molestation, and developed a passion for music, dance, performance, and poetry.
She later studied modern dance, toured Europe as a dancer, made television appearances, recorded her first album, acted on Broadway and served as an editor of an English language weekly in Cairo, Egypt. During her years abroad and as a Civil Rights activists, she fought for social justice, championed equal rights and worked in close partnership with Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1993 at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, Angelou recited her poem "On the Pulse of Morning." In 2011, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
An event partner is Storytime Village, a children literacy organization with a mission to inspire a lifelong love of reading for underserved Kansas youth from birth to age 8.