Poet and author Dr. Maya Angelou was greeted with thunderous applause and a standing ovation after taking the stage at the 29th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration at Appalachian State University.
After taking the podium, Dr. Angelou thanked the audience for inviting her back after 23 years and spoke about the importance of being true gentlemen and woman.
"I thank you for inviting me to Boone, I thank you for inviting me to Appalachia, I thank you for inviting me to a place where people used to look at the sky and see no hope," she said. "I love to be celebrating Martin Luther King and the great man he was because I want you to be that."
Dr. Angelou received immense applause from the near-to-capacity crowd within the Holmes Convocation Center throughout the night, and an additional standing ovation following her reading of "Still I Rise," and "Brave and Startling Truth."
"The truth is you are the best we have, and we need you so desperately. I want to post this poem on the Appalachian website because I want you to have it," Dr. Angelou said.
Dr. Angelou has not spoken at Appalachian in 23 years. Though Boone is not in central North Carolina, her speech was named one of the top five things every North Carolinian should do in the month of January by Ourstate.com
"You've come tonight to bear witness to something important. [Dr. King] has become the pillar of our absolute moral consciousness in this country, and she [Angelou] is our touch to that through-line,” said Cindy Wallace, Vice Chancellor for Student Development. "We are incredibly grateful that she has chosen this moment to share with us."
Dr. Angelou is a historian, author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. She has won three Grammy Awards along with a Pulitzer Prize. She has been a lifetime Reynolds professor at Wake Forest University since 1981. She currently resides in Winston-Salem, N.C.