On Saturday, March 1, 2014, Dr. Maya Angelou graced Atlanta, GA, serving as the keynote speaker at the Inaugural Women 2 Women Conference. Dr. Angelou served on the Honorary Board of Advisors for the National Society of High School Scholars. As the Scholarship Assistant for this international honors organization, I was privileged to be one in an audience over 600 strong, a gathering of women of all races and all ages. As a young woman, an African American, and a graduate student majoring in English, I was honored to witness Dr. Angelou’s mastery in oration, renowned mentorship, and charming international appeal.
In her rousing keynote remarks, Dr. Angelou advocated for the ceaseless nurturing of the mentor-mentee relationship. She explained, “As soon as you get, give. When you learn, give.” Dr. Angelou believed one’s mentality should be, “I’ve learned this already, let me tell you what I know.” Realizing the role of initiator, thus mentor, Dr. Angelou was San Francisco’s first African American female cable car conductor and her screenplay for Georgia, Georgia was the first script written by an African American woman to be filmed. During her time abroad as an actress, editor, and professor, she developed a proficiency in Italian, Spanish, French, the West African language Fanti, and Arabic.
Dr. Angelou devoted her works and her life to exhilarating not a specific gender, or ethnicity, but mankind in its entirety. Her legacy will continue to serve as an illumination of benevolence for humanity. I will never forget the monumental moments in which I shared a space with one of the most esteemed poets, orators, memoirists, and human rights activists of the 20th century.