Cheyney University Blog

Creating Rainbows in Clouds?

April 16, 2012

It has been nearly three weeks since the incomparable, legendary, and iconoclastic American treasure, Dr. Maya Angelou, a special guest of the Keystone Honors Academy, shared her magic with a spellbound audience of over five hundred at Cheyney University.
It is an understatement to assert that the nearly 80 minutes that Dr. Maya Angelou existed in our presence were some of the most memorable and remarkable moments in the lives of many faculty, alumni, students, and community representatives who came both to wish her well and to experience her wisdom and perspective wrought from a life of suffering, transformations, triumphs, and love.
Watching her on stage at Cheyney University took me back to our last conversation in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. It was a small, mid-day luncheon at her home—so I felt doubly blessed to share her company. Another woman leader from Winston-Salem State University and I joined her armed with as many of her works we could carry—even though we were warned she would probably not autograph them.
It has been over five years since that extraordinary experience, but I remember it like yesterday, and wrap myself in its warmth. Dr. Angelou greeted us with a graciousness combined with southern hospitality that transported her guests to a higher spiritual, literary, and cultural plane. As we sat at her dining room table, we watched her weave her brilliance. Much as her presentation elevated the standing room only audience at Cheyney University, Dr. Angelou’s conversation was frequently melodic, often emphasized with quotes from the literature of many countries and songs in English and Spanish––but it was always profound.
We left this once-in-a-lifetime experience clutching precious and newly autographed books by Maya Angelou, acknowledging the feeling of wonderment that happens when you have been in the presence of a true phenomenal woman. I could not help but to ruminate on how a culture may continue to produce such genius. What should we be doing now to make sure we will have more “teachers who are writers” and “rainbows in our clouds”?
I suspect future geniuses are quietly and abjectly tucked away in many of the neighborhoods of our region. They are waiting for us to help them discover the path to transformation, so that they too can blossom into extraordinary leaders for the 21st century—“rainbows in clouds.” One thing is for sure, we do not know where the next Dr. Maya Angelou’s are now. My belief is that some are already with us now, if we can look at them through enlightened eyes, if we can help them see themselves through those eyes, and if we can help give them permission to be extraordinary.
As we all know, some of them, like the late Ed Bradley, have already come through the doors of Cheyney University and have made us proud on a world stage!


Michelle

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