Angelou, who died at 86 last year, delivered a poem at the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
And she was a sexual abuse survivor.
Her extraordinary life and works have inspired “Considering Maya,” a performance of dance, music and spoken word planned for 3 p.m. Sunday at the Marietta Performing Arts Center at Marietta High School.
“Dr. Maya Angelou is one of the primary voices of the 21st century,” said Marietta High School principal Leigh Colburn. “Her works are uplifting, encouraging, funny, heartbreaking, insightful and inspiring.
“Regardless of race, economic status or nationality, every maturing woman can reflect upon a time in her life when she has felt strong, vulnerable, hopeful, grief-stricken, frightened, alone and loved, and within the poetry, books, songs, recipes, life experiences, and resiliency of Maya Angelou, every woman can discover herself.”
Proceeds from the performance will benefit the YWCA of Northwest Georgia, which operates an emergency shelter for women and children escaping domestic violence situations.
“We are very excited about this performance and appreciate all the hard work by the participants,” said Holly Tuchman, executive director of the YWCA of Northwest Georgia. “We are very thankful that the proceeds from the event are going to help those we serve.”
The performers include Marietta High School students and community members.
Natasha Prewitt and her daughter Brooke, 9, are among the dancers.
“It’s one of those messages you can’t teach in a classroom,” Prewitt said of the themes explored in the performance. “It’s nice to dance together. It’s nice to dance for the empowerment of women. Together, we’re strong.”
Mercedes McIntosh, a Georgia State University graduate who works in the insurance field and dances for fun, said the show has been a creative outlet for her.
Kimberly Marroquin, a 17-year-old Marietta High School senior, has been accepted to the University of West Georgia and plans on studying biology before heading to medical school. “Considering Maya” is her first time dancing.
“It makes me feel like I’m doing something productive while having fun at the same time,” she said. “It’s liberating.”
Zari Elliott, 16, is a junior at Marietta High School.
“It’s for a cause and it’s fun at the same time,” she said. “It builds me inside. If I’m not dancing, I feel empty. It’s my passion.”
Several of the performance’s participants said privately that they have a personal connection to domestic violence, and they all champion the cause their hard work will support.
Director Rona Roberts, a teacher at Marietta High School who bears quite a resemblance to her first cousin, “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts, ran through a list of reminders to the company following a Sunday afternoon rehearsal. No gum or jewelry on stage, hair should be pulled back, wear clear nail polish if any, that sort of thing.
Most importantly, though, was her encouragement to dance with purpose: “We need to present hope and love and peace.”
“Considering Maya: A Performance Dialogue”
3 p.m. March 15. General admission tickets are $10 for students and $20 for adults. Marietta Performing Arts Center, on the Marietta High School campus, 1171 Whitlock Ave. in Marietta. Proceeds benefit the YWCA of Northwest Georgia, which operates an emergency shelter and offers a range of programs to serve women and children affected by domestic violence. Tickets and information available at mpac.marietta-city.org.