Maya Angelou is one of the few living people whose words carry as much clout as those of Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and, hell, Socrates. To wit: "Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future and renders the present inaccessible." "If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded." "Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: 'I'm with you, kid. Let's go.'" Many speakers have the capacity to entertain, but few are able to move the audience like Angelou. Her gift is her ability to take simple messages -- love each other, love yourself, persevere -- and to make listeners feel like they've just heard them for the first time. And, better still, to inspire folks to go out and act on it.
The onetime San Francisco streetcar conductor and madam has become the ultimate living legend. She's been nominated for a Tony, an Emmy and a Pulitzer; she recited original work at President Clinton's first inauguration; and she has written 12 best-selling books, including And Still I Riseand I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. She's fluent in six languages, including Arabic and West African Fante. Now 78 years old, she's still making the rounds. Hear her speak and read poetry today. Just try not to get hit by any honorary degrees that universities are flinging at her.
Mon., May 15, 7:30 p.m.