Hope to Present Maya Angelou with Honorary Degree

Posted April 3, 2001

HOLLAND -- Hope College will present Maya Angelou with an honorary degree when the acclaimed writer speaks on campus on Monday, April 16.

Angelou will receive the Doctor of Letters (Litt.D.). She will be appearing at Hope through the Student Speaker Series organized by the college's Student Congress, and will deliver her talk at 7 p.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

Tickets for the event are sold out.

Angelou has written numerous best-selling books of poetry and prose, including "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," "Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie," "Gather Together in My Name," "Phenomenal Woman," "Oh Pray My Wings Are Gonna Fit Me Well," "Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas," "And Still I Rise," "The Heart of a Woman," "I Shall Not Be Moved," "Shaker, Why Don't You Sing?," "The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou," "All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes," "Now Sheba Sings the Song," "On The Pulse of Morning," "Wouldn't Take Nothing For My Journey Now" and "A Brave and Startling Truth."

She has written several books for children, including "Life Doesn't Frighten Me" and "My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken and Me." She has also contributed articles to publications ranging from "Life," to "Cosmopolitan," "Essence," "Harper's Bazaar" and "The New York Times."

Angelou has received awards and honors in several fields. Among others, she received the Chubb Fellowship Award from Yale University in 1970; a National Book Award nomination in 1970 for "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings"; a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 1972 for "Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Diiie"; and a Tony Award nomination in 1973 for her performance in the Broadway production of "Look Away."

She has received two awards from "Ladies Home Journal": one for Woman of the Year in Communications (1976), the other for being one of the Top 100 Most Influential Women (1983). She received the Matrix Award in 1983, and has received more than 30 honorary degrees from schools nationwide. In 1981 she was appointed to a life- time position as the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, and in 1987 she was honored with the North Carolina Award in Literature, the highest the state bestows. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature in 1999, and was named one of the top 100 writers of the 20th century by "Writer's Digest."

In 1992, she was invited to compose and recite a poem to celebrate President Clinton's Inauguration, and was named Essence' Woman of the Year. In 1994, she was presented with a Grammy Award for best spoken word album ("On the Pulse of the Morning"). In 1995, she wrote and presented a poem to honor the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, and in 1996 she was named UNICEF's National Ambassador.

In 1959-60, at the request of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., she was the northern coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She subsequently lived in Cairo and Ghana. She became the first woman editor of Cairo's "The Arab Observer," and English-language news weekly, and in Ghana was a features editor with "The African Review." She also joined the University of Ghana as a teacher and assistant administrator at the School of Music and Drama.

She was appointed by President Gerald Ford to the Bicentennial Commission, and by President Jimmy Carter to the National Commission on the Observance of International Women's Year.

Her screenplay "Georgia, Georgia" was the first original script by a black woman to be produced. Her film "Sister, Sisters" became the first full-length effort of 20th Century Fox TV. She has worked on numerous musical scores for films, and played a role in Universal Pictures' "How to Make an American Quilt."

She has made hundreds of appearances on network and local television talk shows, including a one-hour interview with Bill Moyers on the PBS special, "Facing Evil." She has appeared on programs such as "Sesame Street" and "Touched by an Angel," and her autobiographical account of her youth, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," was a special for CBS in 1979. Angelou received an Emmy nomination for her supporting role in the 1977 production of "Roots," and the Golden Eagle Award for her PBS special "Afro-American in the Arts."

Angelou's visit is being sponsored by the college's Student Congress, and supported through other Hope departments including the President's Office, the Women's Studies program, the Office of Multicultural Life and the Provost's Office.

The Student Speaker Series debuted with author Alex Haley on Jan. 30, 1992. Others featured through the years have included actor Danny Glover and actor/director Felix Justice; comedian and talk show host Bertice Berry; author James Malinchak; former principal Joe Clark, inspiration for the film "Lean on Me"; and attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on environmental issues.


Press Releases @ Hope College

hope home page
public relations
about hope
about holland
campus map & tour
directions to hope

giving to hope
gift planning
hope in the news

president's office
press releases
sports releases
today's weather

© 2006 Hope College, Holland, Michigan 49423 616.395.7000