Wake Forest honors Angelou with residence hall

Wake Forest honors Angelou with residence hall
February 23
00:02 2017

By Todd Luck

The Chronicle

Maya Angelou’s educational legacy has a new home at a residence hall that bears her name at Wake Forest University.

Angelou was a poet, author, actress and activist who was the Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake from 1982 until she passed away in 2014. Maya Angelou Hall is the first building on the campus to be named after an African-American and only the second to be named after a woman. The residence hall was dedicated on Friday, Feb. 17, with many from the university and Angelou’s family in attendance.

“She helped us see what we have in common instead of how we were different,” said Wake Forest President Dr. Nathan Hatch. “She reminded us that we were all human.”

Melissa Harris-Perry recalled her experience with Angelou when she attended Wake Forest. She was a both a student and an assistant to Angelou.

“Dr. Angelou always made us feel at home in her presence,” she said.

She said that Angelou was a big factor in choosing to become a professor at Wake Forest. Unfortunately, the famed poet passed within weeks of Harris-Perry’s arrival. The former MSNBC host now acts as the Wake’s Maya Angelou Presidential Chair Professor of Politics and International Affairs.

Angelou’s grandson Elliott Jones read a letter from his father, Guy Johnson, which spoke about the concerns the family had when Angelou took the job at Wake Forest. It was soon after her divorce from her second husband and the family was concerned that her new home in Winston-Salem was too far away from her support network. But she found a new community to support her in the Twin City as she became part of Wake, a member of Mt. Zion Baptist Church and an active Winston-Salem resident.

Elliott Jones said the family was glad to see a new home for Angelou’s legacy and an appropriate one since she devoted so much her of life to inspiring generations of students.

“I can honestly say it feels good to be home,” said Elliot.

Angelou Hall is a 76,110 square-foot, five story residence hall that houses 224 students. Currently upperclassman live there but, starting in the fall, it will house first-year students. It includes a classroom, study spaces, kitchens, a media/game room, a recreation lounge and offices for Residence and Housing.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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