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Posts Tagged ‘Maya Angelou’

The chance to “meet” African American legislators from 1868 in Raleigh, a celebration of the life of Maya Angelou in Winston-Salem and a survey of jazz greats in New Bern are just a few of the opportunities for fun and discovery you’ll find this weekend with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

Here are 10 suggestions to make the most of your time:

1. “Meet” a few members of North Carolina’s 1868 black caucus during a living history program at the State Capitol in Raleigh Saturday.
2. Spend Saturday night under the stars at Town Creek Indian Mound in Mount Gilead, one of the state’s best stargazing spots.
3. Honor the life of the legendary Maya Angelou with an evening of poetry and music Thursday at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem.
4. See a new exhibit of photographs that spotlight historic preservation efforts across the state, opening Friday at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh.
5. Get a glimpse into the lives and artistic creations of some of North Carolina’s jazz greats and hear some of genre’s most popular tunes Thursday at Tryon Palace in New Bern.
6. Enjoy some of the best classical music by Russian composers at concerts by the N.C. Symphony in Chapel Hill and Raleigh throughout the weekend.
7. Take your kids to see interactive productions of West African fables at Historic Stagville in Durham Saturday and Sunday.
8. Discover tools for learning about your family’s early African American ancestors at a genealogy workshop offered by the State Library Saturday in Raleigh.

 

9. Create a mixed-media canvas at the Museum of Albemarle Friday in Elizabeth City.
10. Join the N.C. Museum of Art in Raleigh Friday for a screening Now, Voyager, sometimes called the Greatest Generation’s version of Eat Pray Love.

11. Celebrate the 87th annual Academy Awards with a visit to the Starring North Carolina! exhibition at the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh.

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12. Learn about the often-overlooked history of early Spanish explorers in Appalachia during a lecture Saturday at the Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort.

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Check out DCR’s calendar for more information on these and other events, and a enjoy a great North Carolina weekend!

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Dr. Angelou with Gov. James G. Martin at the
1987 North Carolina Award ceremony

Earlier this morning, Cultural Resources Sec. Susan Kluttz issued the following statement in tribute to Dr. Maya Angelou who passed away Wednesday at her home in Winston-Salem:

 

Dr. Maya Angelou was a truly legendary poet, author, artist and activist,” said Secretary Kluttz. “Her status as a recipient of the North Carolina Award demonstrates the impact she had on North Carolina’s literary tradition and her prominence in the civil rights movement. We were truly blessed to have her make her home in North Carolina. My thoughts and prayers are with her family.”

DCR was honored to join Gov. Jim Martin in presenting Dr. Angelou with a North Carolina Award in 1987. You can read more about her life and work in the 1987 program.

We were also honored to have Dr. Angelou as a speaker at our Lay My Burden Down Civil War symposium earlier this year. As part of that the conference she composed and recited an original poem. You can see video of her recitation below:

You can read more about Dr. Angelou on NCpedia, and see similar tributes from Gov. Pat McCrory,  the N.C. Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Winston-Salem Journal and the New York Times.

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There are wonderful African American writers to read all year long, but we pause during Black History Month to celebrate a few.  As it happens, the writers who first come to mind are all women, so here’s a fast forward nod to Women’s History Month in March too.  Among Carole Boston Weatherford, Eleanora Tate, Zelda Lockhart, and Maya Angelou, there are selections for all ages.  There are a couple of autobiographies from the 1800s too, by Harriet Jacobs and Elizabeth Keckley.

The beautifully crafted words of Maya Angelou from her poem, Still I Rise, is a fitting salute to them all. 

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.

Maya Angelou was born in Missouri, but has been a distinguished professor at Wake Forest University since 1981.  In the 1950s, she joined the Harlem Writers Guild and was among writers associated with the Civil Rights Movement.  She was a friend of Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Devastated by King’s assassination in 1968, Angelou turned to writing her life’s story that became “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” From that publication in 1970 on, she has been a national figure whose published works number more than 30.  Angelou has received many awards, including in 2011 the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President Barack Obama.

Eleanora Tate comes from Missouri and now lives in Morehead City.  She says she writes “for folks from 9 through 99, and “I like to write about African Americans so that readers of all colors can get a truer viewpoint of who we are…”  She has written professionally for more than 30 years. Her popular title, “The Secret of Gumbo Grove” is part of a trilogy of books set in fictional Calvary County in South Carolina.  It is about a weedy, old cemetery where many of the African American founders of Myrtle Beach are buried.  She has won several honors including a Parents’ Choice Award.  Tate says “When the arts decline, the nation declines; when the arts flourish, the nation flourishes.”

Carole Boston Weatherford grew up in Baltimore, and now lives in High Point.  She composed her first poem at age 6, which her mother wrote down.  She had a career in marketing and public relations before earning a master’s degree in creative writing.  She initially wanted to write poetry for adults, but by the time she graduated decided to write historical fiction and poetry for children.  Her first children’s book, “Juneteenth Jamboree” was published in 1995.  Weatherford has authored almost 30 children’s books, and has found her niche mining the past for “family stories, fading traditions, and forgotten struggles.”  Her acclaimed historical titles for juveniles include “Moses,” “The Sound that Jazz Makes” and “Freedom on the Menu:  The Greensboro Sit-ins.”  She is recipient of NAACP Image Award, Caldecott Award, the North Carolina Award, and others.  She also teaches at Fayetteville State University.

Zelda Lockhart was born in Mississippi and now lives in Durham.  Her debut novel, “Fifth Born,” was a 2002 Barnes & Noble Discovery selection and finalist for debut fiction from the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Foundation.  Lockhart also published “Cold Running Creek,” in 2002 and “Fifth Born II:  The Hundredth Turtle” in 2010. She was the 2010 Piedmont Laureate and spent a year sharing her passion for literature with Piedmont North Carolina through community programs.  Lockhart has been writing for 25 years.  She writes of family secrets, poverty, and the influence of historical periods and cultural practices on lives. 

Harriet Jacobs, born in Edenton, tells her story in “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl,” published in 1861.  The autobiography details the uncertainty of slave life, rebuffing unwanted sexual advances, hiding in a crawl space for about seven years, and then escaping slavery. She escaped in 1842, and achieved her freedom in 1852.  In the north, she took on the abolitionist cause, and at the end of the Civil War worked to help freedmen with their education.

 

Elizabeth Keckley became a dressmaker and confidant of Mary Todd Lincoln.  Keckley was born in Virginia but lived in Hillsborough, while on loan by her owner to his son.  Through her sewing she was able to purchase her freedom in 1855, and to establish a dressmaking business in Washington, D.C., in 1860.  Her clientele were the wives of prominent figures and politicians.  She became the modiste of Mrs. Lincoln and a close friend.  In 1898, she published her autobiography “Behind the Scenes, Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House.”  Keckley reported that she believed the book would help the widowed Mrs. Lincoln, who was having financial difficulty, but it had the opposite effect.  Mrs. Lincoln felt betrayed and the two women never spoke again.

These writers craft their stories with universal truths and respect for the act of creating and for the audience.  As Maya Angelou concludes, in Still I Rise:

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

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