June 7, 2014
The recent passing of poet, educator and civil rights leader Maya Angelou has caused many of us to pause and remember not only her amazing literary accomplishments but her legacy as a human being and advocate for justice and equality.
Residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania had the privilege of seeing Ms. Angelou in person several times over the years. In what is believed to be her first public presentation in our area, Angelou spoke at Brooks Auditorium at what was then Keystone Junior College on May 6, 1982. Her visit was organized by Keystone’s Concerts and Lectures Series, a thriving college organization that still brings entertaining and meaningful speakers and performers to campus.
Her booming but lilting voice captivated those in attendance that night, as it would for years to come in venues large and small across the nation. However, even more important than her voice was her strong and steady message, affirming the dignity of all people regardless of color or individual circumstances.
Among her many poignant quotations, we remember one in particular: “I’ve often learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
She inspired us all to feel that, despite the burdens of the moment, we can rise to accomplish great things for ourselves and for others. For that lesson, and many others, we remain truly grateful for the work and the life of Maya Angelou.
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