Maya Angelou Tribute Scheduled For Oct. 24

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You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I'll rise

– "Still I Rise," Maya Angelou

The life and work of Dr. Maya Angelou, one of the most influential women of the 20th century, will be celebrated this Friday at 3 p.m. in Galbreath Chapel. Ohio University students, faculty and staff and community members are invited to attend.

Hosted and coordinated by the LGBT Center, Diversity Studies Certificate Program and Women's Center at Ohio University, "And Still I Rise: A Tribute to Maya Angelou" will feature readings of Dr. Angelou’s work as well as readings of original writings inspired by the late poet.

Angelou, an author, poet, activist, professor and sexual-assault survivor, died in May 2014. LGBT Center Director Delfin Bautista explained that, because of her many identities, Angelou is an important figure for many people in Athens.

"Maya Angelou herself is just a unique person and encompasses a lot of different identities that I think resonate and reflect our community here," he said.

For Bautista, Dr. Angelou is a personal hero, and the news of her death sparked the idea for a tribute.

"She’s been a very influential figure for me personally as well as professionally," he said. "The idea came to organize a tribute in some way."

The goals of this event, according to Bautista, is to reconnect students to their history and to bring people together in a creative way.

"It's an opportunity to come together, to honor the life of an amazing person. It’s also an opportunity for folks to have a creative outlet," he explained. "There’s a lot of very traditional academic outlets through the university, and I’m all for not being traditional."

An unintended result of the event was the collaboration of different OU offices that had not worked together much in the past. Because Maya Angelou covers a lot of territory and inspires so many different people, the Diversity Studies Certificate Program was also interested in getting involved.

"Because the Diversity Studies Certificate program assists students to understand the experience of diverse others who have been and are still too often marginalized in many ways, Dr. Angelou's life-long 'voice' is to be celebrated. Her contribution to our society cannot be underestimated," said Dr. Jaylynne Hutchinson, director of the Undergraduate Diversity Studies Certificate Program.

Hutchinson said the event is notable since it is the first memorial tribute that Ohio University or the Athens community has hosted since Angelou's passing.

"It's also unique in that, true to Dr. Angelou's strong belief in the power of ordinary people to change the world, we have invited anyone who would like to contribute their 'voice' to honor Dr. Angelou, to do so."

Visit the event's Facebook page for details and updates.