Wake Forest Dedicates Building In Memory Of Maya Angelou

Wake Forest Dedicates Building In Memory Of Maya Angelou

3:54pm Feb 16, 2017
Several private events are planned this weekend at Wake Forest University to celebrate the legacy of Maya Angelou. KERI BROWN/WFDD

Wake Forest University will honor the legacy of Maya Angelou on Friday. The campus community is dedicating a new residence hall in her memory.

The famous poet, actress, author and civil rights activist had a close connection to the university. Angelou taught generations of Wake Forest students as the Reynolds Professor of American Studies from 1982 until her death in 2014.

The university is holding several private events this weekend to celebrate the new building, which officially opened last month. Those include a ribbon cutting ceremony today, and a reception for her former students and members of Angelou’s family.

The five-story brick building also contains a classroom, a parlor complete with a baby grand piano and study rooms painted with her favorite red color – claret.

Barbee Oakes is the chief diversity officer at Wake Forest and was a close friend of Angelou’s.

“We think of the students who will live in Angelou Hall as being ambassadors of Dr. Angelou because they will embody the spirit of what it is she wanted people to live by – the common humanity that we share, diversity and inclusion,” says Oakes.

The building will house only first year students this fall and the Office of Residence Life and Housing.

She has had such an important legacy for teaching, dancing, [and] creativity," says Donna McGalliard, Dean of Residence Life and Housing at Wake Forest University. "What better space to name after her than a residence where all of those kinds of things, intellectual discourse, [and] friendships that are forming happen in a place that’s named after her?”

Mcgalliard says more touches will be added to the hall in the coming weeks. Angelou’s family is also donating sculptures from her former home on Bartram Road in Winston-Salem. Those will be displayed throughout the building and courtyard.

The 3 p.m. dedication ceremony on Friday will include remarks by Angelou’s grandson, Elliott Jones. Legendary singer and songwriter Valerie Ashford Simpson will perform a musical tribute. It will be livestreamed for the public.

Wake Forest University officials say Maya Angelou Hall will be the first building named for an African American and the second residence hall to bear the name of a female professor.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news



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