On February 16th, Ball State held a tribute to author Maya Angelou, who died this past June. English department faculty Prof. Mark Neely and Prof. Angela Jackson-Brown were both involved in planning the event, and Prof. Jackson-Brown spoke at the tribute. The English Department asked sophomore English major Nikole Darnell to interview Prof. Jackson-Brown and to reflect on the event.
Almost every chair in Ball State’s Student Center Ballroom was full as people from all around packed in, eager to see the tribute to Dr. Maya Angelou that was sponsored by the Office of Institutional Diversity on Monday February 16, 2015.
While there were numerous Ball State students and faculty in attendance, the program also attracted several outside visitors. For instance, the gentleman sitting next to me said his group traveled from Ivy Tech to see the program.
It is an understatement to say that the tribute was spectacular—it was also beautiful, thought provoking, and, at times, moved me to tears.
Professor Angela Jackson-Brown of the Ball State English Department, one of the speakers at the tribute, graciously made time to speak with me about the event and her love for Dr. Angelou’s work. Professor Brown remembers becoming interested in poetry as a child when her father gave her a book of poems. It was then that she discovered Maya Angelou’s work and “all of these amazing black poets” and “that it was okay for [her] to write and explore [her] feelings through the written word.” It was obvious by the end of the night that Professor Brown was not the only one inspired by Dr. Angelou’s work.