The keynote speaker for Belmont’s 2011 Humanities Symposium, Maya Angelou really needs no introduction — she is simply the most visible African-American literary figure of our time. Angelou’s paramount moment — for my generation, at least — is her reading of “On the Pulse of Morning” at Bill Clinton’s 1993 presidential inauguration, which garnered praise for being the first recitation of poetry at an inauguration since Robert Frost read for JFK. Her appearance tonight is free and open to the public, but it is only the tip of the glacier-sized series that focuses on the theme of Liberating Voices — an idea that has been central to Angelou’s oeuvre since I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which earned her a National Book Award nomination in 1969. The symposium began on Sept. 14, and will continue through Sept. 21, with events that range from literary (TSU professor Rebecca Dixon’s talk on the murky waters of liberation in African-American novels) to the cinematic (a screening of an episode of the Sundance documentary series Iconoclasts that follows Angelou and Dave Chappelle for a day). More information is available at belmont.edu/cas/humanities_symposium.
An Evening with Maya Angelou, 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, at Curb Event Center. Liberating Voices Symposium through Sept. 21 at various locations.