Central Virginia remembers Maya Angelou's work - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Central Virginia remembers Maya Angelou's work

FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2008 file photo, poet Maya Angelou is shown in Washington. FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2008 file photo, poet Maya Angelou is shown in Washington.

Maya Angelou visited Central Virginia on several occasions. One of them was back in 2007, where she delivered a keynote address at the Richmond Convention Center for an area nonprofit. News of her death Wednesday hit many personally.

Millions are inspired by her memoir, where she explains overcoming hardships, even a sexual assault. She rose above it all, helping others find their own worth through words no one could deliver quite like her.

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With creativity and confidence, Maya Angelou wrote and spoke like a winner.

"I was transfixed by her," said Dr. Andrea Simpson, political science chair at the University of Richmond.

She recalled Angelou's pivotal role in the Civil Rights Movement.

"As far back as Malcolm X, she was in New York helping him organize the community," Simpson said.

Then, her classic literature was considered a staple in classrooms everywhere.

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"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is universally inspiring," she said. "At one point, it went through a phase in education where people wanted to ban this book because she explains an assault that made her not speak for a year after she was assaulted," Simpson said.

In 2007, nonprofit group Family Lifeline invited Angelou to Richmond. The event drew hundreds of people to Richmond's Convention Center, where she wowed the crowd with her riveting style of writing that seemed to connect with just about anyone who heard it.

"She was wonderful. She was funny. She really understood and resonated with our audience…We are saddened to lose someone who was such a lovely voice in our world, but certainly her legacy will live on," said Susan Davenport with Family Lifeline.

It's a legacy of a "Phenomenal Woman", as described in one of her poems, with more talents than one.

"A poet, a writer, an inspiration, a sage," Simpson said.

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