On Meeting Dr. Maya Angelouby Hasan Davis on 05/29/14
I met Dr. Maya Angelou once. In the Spring of 1988, I was a student at Berea College and Dr. Maya Angelou was scheduled to be our Thursday Convocation Speaker. To this day I do not know how or why, out of the 1,500 hard-working, well deserving students attending Berea, I was given the honor of welcoming Dr. Angelou to campus. Thinking back, I may have just appointed myself. Just a few weeks into my first semester back after being expelled from Berea College, I was struggling. But, today I was to meet Maya Angelou and Alex Haley in the green room at Phelps Stokes Chapel and visit with them until it was time for Convocation to begin.
I skipped my afternoon class to arrive almost an hour before convocation, afraid that I might get distracted and miss my appointed task. Sitting nervously, I coached myself through the best way to introduce myself to two living Icons. About 20 minutes into my rehearsal, the door to the green room creaked open. Without fanfare or entourage, in walked the two.
I stumbled over to the door hand extended. Maya all but caught me as I rushed forward. She grasped my hand and I immediately calmed. As I stood silent, she gave me a considerate look and whispered, you have quite a story to share with the world young man. I was frozen in fear. I could not imagine how she could have learned of my challenges and failures in such a short time on campus. For a second I returned to feeling like an imposter and a lifetime of failing suddenly surfaced. Do not worry, she continued, still holding my hand firmly in both of hers. You just have to finish writing the ending. With that her smile broadened and my calm returned.
She introduced me to Mr. Alex Haley; then directed me to sit with them and tell them about me. About me? Shocked, I sat there with the two of them staring intently at me, patient for me to begin. Only God can remember what I actually shared with my new confidants on that day. I am not sure how long we talked.
We talked until someone knocked on the door and announced that we were close to our 3:00 start time. I rose and shook hands with Mr. Haley and thanked him for his time and his work. I turned as Dr. Angelou stood, raising my head to follow the rise of her calm face. She again took me by the hand and whispered, I am waiting for you to finish your story. She smiled, handed me a piece of paper from her notebook and walked out the door toward the stage and the packed auditorium of students, faculty, staff and community folks.
Because of the audacity of fearless champions of hope like Dr. Maya Angelou, unafraid to speak light into dark places, I continue to find the courage to keep writing my story.