I think it was an ABA meeting I attended with my husband. There is always a sort of convocation opening event. We were in a large auditorium and the guest speaker was Maya Angelou. It was one of the periods where she was quite out front and public, and so I’d been exposed to her quite a bit. I really looked forward to hearing her.
But the reality…well, I couldn’t have anticipated it, and I’ll never forget it. I’d never sat in such a large room and felt that the speaker was addressing me directly. Such was the power of her delivery, and of her words. I’m certain I wasn’t the only one to feel that way. She drew us into her circle from the first sentence, as if to say, “Here, let me tell you something,” and like curious children, we all bent forward.
She spoke of morality, of right and wrong, and the gargantuan effect one human can have upon another with only the smallest gesture. She shared her own hard-won wisdom with grace and humor—oh, her humor, her laugh—and the most astonishingly compelling voice. When she finished I was distraught. I didn’t want it to end.
I will always count the experience as one of the seminal moments of my life. One of those moments when your eyes are opened to things, people, places you would otherwise never, ever have seen. I’m forever grateful to have brushed against Ms. Angelou, even metaphorically, from my auditorium seat far away.