The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Poetry legend speaks at UNT

“Who knows what I would have been without rainbows in my life? Just one more barefooted black girl who had been abused. I am who I am because somebody dared to be a rainbow in my cloud.”

Inspirational words spoken by Dr. Maya Angelou captivated the University of North Texas auditorium Thursday night. Angelou’s speech was the highlight of an evening sponsored by the Division of Equality and Diversity at UNT that was set to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first African American freshman entering the university.

Angelou satisfied the audience with her soulful stories and captivated them with her poetic words. Her passion and grace brought the auditorium to life as she shared her faith in humanity and her unwavering subscription to hope.

“Life holds such promise, such promise for not only me but for someone I may never know,” said Angelou. “You have that ability to be a rainbow in the cloud for someone who may not even look like you.”

Believing in the light each individual has to offer and the potential one can unfold was the message in Angelou’s speech, and her words resonated with her audience because of their obvious sincerity.

“Poetry tells you someone was there before you. Someone felt inadequate before you and yet has survived, not just survived but thrived, thrived with passion and compassion, some human and some style,” Angelou said.

She advised everyone in the audience to wake the next morning with a hunger for poetry because everyone truly needs it. And in convincing her audience to satiate the hunger they may not have realized they had, she recited powerful poetry that moved the crowd.

But Angelou not only shared her poetry and that of her favorite authors, she also opened up to storytelling. She shared with her audience how the divorce of her parents was a blessing in disguise, as it led to her living with her grandmother who taught her how to read and write, and an uncle who taught her math. She told of her vow to silence when she was seven after she was afraid that it was her words of reporting her rapist to police that had killed him, and how her grandmother, a woman with a fourth grade education who taught herself to read, knew Angelou was to be a teacher one day despite her unwillingness to speak. She told of all those who instilled in her hope and who allowed and encouraged her to be the dynamic legend she has become.

And in sharing she took on her most comfortable role of teacher. She instilled in her audience a revitalized sense of self and a new appreciation of possibility. She revealed not only poetry and stories, but also her belief in hope and an individual’s potential.

“You have no idea the power you have,” said Angelou. “You must tell yourself I will be a rainbow in somebody’s cloud.”

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