By Derrick Rogan, ’16, Sociology with Specialization in Social Work and Policy
As I sat in my seat in the second row from the front, my anxiety continued to build to unimaginable heights as I waited to hear one of the greatest poets of all time. After two failed attempts, Maya Angelou had finally made it to Butler University to speak to the Indianapolis community. After the unneeded and suspenseful introductions, Dr. Maya Angelou made her way to the stage. In her elderly state, you could tell it was difficult for her to stand, as she held the chair for support, but she stood and gave the audience one of the hugest smiles I had ever seen. Despite my excitement, her smile was more intense than mine after she took the stage!
Nonetheless, Dr. Angelou’s stage presence was liberating, but oddly demanding at the same time. Before she even began to speak, you could no longer hear side conversations and the entire atmosphere of Clowes Memorial Hall appeared to shift from slightly impatient and unfocused to completely welcoming and open-minded. Finally, it seems just as Dr. Angelou felt the change herself, she began to speak and, despite her age and fragility, her voice was powerful.
Kicking off her talk with words of encouragement, Dr. Angelou did an amazing job making people feel good about themselves. Her talk was centered on what she termed a rainbow in the cloud, which is most often a person, but for her it was poetry. A rainbow in the cloud is something or someone who is there to assist you through a cloudy session in your life, but the reason it is called a rainbow is because many times you can’t see it during the rain or can’t always anticipate it, but after you find the rainbow and figure it out, the aftermath is a brighter one than ever before.
Personally, as an African-American young man from the heart of Chicago, attending a private school isn’t always the easiest thing I’ve ever done. However, after listening to Maya Angelou herself tell myself and everyone else at Butler University that if someone could do it before me, it isn’t impossible; I found strength in her words. Besides the empowerment she bestowed upon most of the audience, one of the most renowned poets of all time also provided a number of laughs during her time on stage, with my favorite being, “I don’t trust people who don’t laugh. It’s something unnatural about someone who is serious all the time!”
Dr. Maya Angelou took the audience on the most exciting emotional rollercoasters of all time. From sad to sorrowful, she did an immaculate job of pulling the audience into her mind and allowing us to swarm around and leave with an array of brand new knowledge and emotional capabilities. To say it was life changing would be an understatement, but it was indeed a blessing and a pleasure to have the opportunity through Butler University to sit so close and hear such a great woman speak.