Gerald Early’s remembrances of Maya Angelou

Noted American essayist and culture critic Gerald L. Early, PhD, has fond remembrances of when he introduced Maya Angelou before one of her three speaking engagements at Washington University in St. Louis.

It was 1984, and Early was a new assistant professor of English and of African and African-American studies, both in Arts & Sciences at the university.

He was asked to introduce the legendary poet, author, actor and civil rights activist when she spoke Feb. 8 during the university’s Assembly Series lecture program in Graham Chapel. Angelou presented a reading of her work and provided commentary for the second annual Chimes (junior honorary society) Lecture.

Early, now the Merle Kling Professor of Modern Letters in Arts & Sciences at WUSTL, recalled, “I was completely intimidated by her. She was a very larger-than-life person, carried herself like something of a movie star.

“At any rate, she gave a fantastic presentation, combining her literary and theatrical skills seamlessly. Afterwards, she came up to me and told me she liked my introduction. ‘It was worthy of me,’ is exactly what she said,” Early recalled.

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