March 28, 2008

Former Poet Laureate Maya Angelou To Address Class of 2008 Graduates

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Convocation Chair Rohan Thakkar ’08 announced yesterday that Maya Angelou, the world-renowned poet and author, will be this year’s convocation speaker. The announcement was made at yesterday’s Student Assembly meeting, a day after Angelou confirmed and signed her contract with Cornell.
[img_assist|nid=29189|title=Commence the poetry|desc=Maya Angelou signed a contract on Wednesday to speak at Commencement.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]Thakkar said that due to the negative reaction towards last year’s speaker, Soledad O’Brien, this year’s committee began its search process a lot earlier. He said, “We definitely wanted to get someone who wasn’t going to be controversial.” Thakkar also said he thought the administration was “very supportive” and “more proactive” in finding a speaker than it was last year.
According to Thakkar, Angelou was chosen due to her diverse accomplishments as a poet, historian, author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director. He anticipates she will be “well-received by parents” in addition to seniors.
Angelou is well-known for her series of six autobiographies, including I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, as well as for reciting her poem, “On the Pulse of Morning” at President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration. She currently travels as a lecturer and has received over 30 honorary degrees.
“It’s great that they’re bringing a poet,” said Prof. Grant Farred, Africana studies and English. “I’m sure it’ll be a performance because she has a kind of presence. I think she will leave people with an inspiring mission and familiarity with American history.”
“I wish I could go to convocation even though I’m not graduating,” said Veronica Fischmann ’10, an English major, “It’s like the [English department’s] reading series, which is great, on steroids.”
Senior Convocation will be at noon on May 24th, the weekend of Commencement, in Schoellkopf Stadium.