Maya Angelou Celebration in Stamps

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The below article was written by Jeannie Roberts and was featured in today’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

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A celebration Saturday of the life of poet and author Maya Angelou will be the first-ever public gathering in recognition of the self-proclaimed “Daughter of the Delta” in her childhood home of Stamps.

The day of remembrance will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the Lafayette County High School, located at 1209 Alexander Lane in Stamps. The event — which is a collaborative effort among Stamps Mayor David Ray Bright, Janis F. Kearney and the Celebrate Maya! Project — is free and open to the public.

The harsh depiction of Stamps as a segregated town in Angelou’s 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings engendered long-held friction between the author and the town.

In June, the Stamps City Council voted unanimously on a resolution proposed by the mayor to dedicate the city’s park and Lake June to Angelou. The pond is mentioned often in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Before the dedication, however, there was “not a lot to signify that she lived here,” Bright said in an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article after Angelou’s death in May.

Born Marguerite Ann Johnson on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Angelou was sent to Stamps when she was 3 to live with her paternal grandmother, Annie Henderson. Angelou passed away May 28 of an undisclosed cause at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Angelou’s grandson, Elliott Jones, will be the special guest at Saturday’s celebration. The event will feature performances by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Vesper Choir and the Southwest Arkansas Arts Council and Hope Public School drum ballet.

The recently formed Celebrate Maya! Project includes Arkansas authors, artists, community leaders, and cultural and social advocates who came together to create events and initiatives to honor Angelou’s contributions.

 

Credit: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.