Maya Angelou visit at Oakland University in MI 2006

A Meaningful Memory

Maya Angelou visit at Oakland University in MI 2006

I was so grateful to be able to find this today. It’s a photo that was taken after Maya Angelou came to visit Oakland University back in 2006 (That’s a much younger me in the blue jeans). I was an executive board member of The Association of Black Students at the time, and had an opportunity to be able to meet her briefly at a reception that took place after her speech.

I cherished the opportunity then, but I can appreciate the significance of it even more now that she has died.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou

Although I do not remember everything that she said on that night those many years ago, what I do still remember, as she put it, is how she made me feel. I still remember feeling encouraged, inspired, energized, and connected to a cause and purpose much greater than myself.

I end this note with some of her quotes from that night which were recorded in an article for the university newspaper. It is my hope that they affirm and inspire you, as they do me. One way to honor those who have had positive impacts on our lives is to be that person for someone else.

“This university, as you know, is a rainbow in the clouds. There are many young men and women who have entered this university who represent the first time their family has ever entered an institution of higher education,”

“..it’s the work of the “heroes and sheroes” that came before that helped everyone get where they are today.”

“You are here because you’ve already been paid for. Someone has been a rainbow in the clouds for you whether you know it or not…All you really have to do is prepare yourselves so you can pay for someone who will come down the road.”

“You need to know someone was there before you. Someone has survived and done better than that — thrived with some passion, compassion, humor and style,…I want you to know that. That someone has been there before you so that you can step up a few more steps. You are not alone.”

Ubuntu,

From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW, LLMSW

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I'm a Social Worker, Educator, and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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