Dr. Maya Angelou moved to North Carolina in 1981 and Bill Ferris, senior associate director of the Center For The Study of The American South at UNC-Chapel Hill, says she found her place here.
“There are so many people here, John Hope Franklin, so many gifted writers and intellectual voices for the black experience over the years," Ferris said. "She found North Carolina a good fit for her love. She kept a place in New York City, but her home most of the year was here in North Carolina.”
Ferris first remembers reading Maya Angelou in 1970. He has taught the author's work throughout his career.
“I think she was part of the tradition of southern woman, black women, who spoke for their people, beginning with Zora Neale Hurston, and today Alice Walker. There’s a tradition of literary voices in the 20th century that Maya Angelou was a critically important part of."
Bill Ferris says Dr. Angelou's impact lies far beyond her writing though.
“I think Maya Angelou was unique in that she was a superb writer, a gifted poet, a teacher, but she was a highly visible public voice. Her presence on the Oprah Winfrey show [and] her interviews on public radio represent the unique bridging of ... the private life of a writer with a very public persona. Virtually everyone in America knows her voice when they hear it.”