Famed poet Angelou to speak at Tennessee Tech

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Civil rights activist, poet, dramatist and educator Maya Angelou will visit Tennessee Tech University on March 20 as part of the university’s celebration of Women’s History Month.

Angelou’s presentation, co-sponsored by the Tennessee Tech Commission on the Status of Women and Center Stage, will begin at 7 p.m. CDT in the university’s Derryberry Auditorium.

Tickets to the event are limited. Tennessee Tech students will be given priority; any remaining tickets will be made available to the public on March 19 in the university’s Hendersn Hall 204C.

“Because she’s African-American and a woman, Maya Angelou could be called the matron saint of the ’60s because her poetry articulates civil rights and women’s rights,” said Tennessee Tech English instructor Andrew Smith, who is teaching her works in his American literature class.

“Some of her poetry is hard for students to read, because it’s hard for this generation to understand the anger she expresses in some of her work,” he said.

“It’s hard for us to imagine a Jim Crow world, but it wasn't that long ago.”

One of today’s most influential voices, Angelou’s best-known work is a memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” published in 1970.

Since then, she has written more than 30 bestselling titles, including works of verse, fiction and nonfiction.

She is a producer, actress, filmmaker, historian, civil rights activist, dramatist and educator.

“She’s someone who has lived a lot and has had some very difficult moments in her life. She hasn't lived the same life as people here,” said Colleen Hays, Tennessee Tech French professor and chairwoman of the the university’s Commission on the Status of Women.

“Since the 70s, she has been an inspiring voice in women’s and African-American poetry.”