A Rainbow in the Clouds: Reflections on Dr. Maya Angelou’s Visit to Western


Dr. Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou

If anyone passed by Alumni Hall around 6:00pm on November 3rd, they might have wondered why there was a long line filled with anxious people that stretched outside the building on the sidewalk. The reason for this line was to listen to Dr. Maya Angelou. She is a famous and influential African-American poet, who came to give an inspiring presentation to the London and Western community. At 7:00pm, after everyone was seated, she was greeted with a standing ovation. She began by reciting her poem, entitled “Rainbow in the Clouds,” and noted that she was overjoyed to be in London. The eighty-three year old woman was able to effectively engage the audience by telling jokes about her travels and experiences. She even attempted to rap a poem. It was riveting to listen to her intellectual ideas, and inspiring to observe the respect given to her by the audience in their attentiveness and silence. Not only was her presence powerful, but so were her words.

 Poetry as a Rainbow in the Clouds

Dr. Maya Angelou’s introductory poem set the theme for her presentation. To explain her poem, she related a story of her crippled and poor Uncle Willie, whom she lived with. After he passed away, she met many people whose lives were influenced by her uncle. One of these people was a man who became the first African-American mayor of a town in Arkansas, USA. He told Dr. Angelou that her Uncle Willie made him who he was. Thus, she asserts that each person, despite their race, gender, or social status is a rainbow in the clouds.  They have the ability to positively influence a person’s life, like her uncle Willie.

Poetry is in part, Dr. Maya Angelou’s rainbow in the clouds. After being raped at a young age and hearing that the rapist was beaten to death, she stopped speaking for six years. She thought she had killed the man with her voice. When she was older she developed her love for poetry, and her teacher told her that she would never fully love it unless she spoke it. Consequently, she began to speak in order to hear her poetry. She read poems that she related to, and she wrote poems about the issues she faced. In this way, poetry instilled hope in her and was her own rainbow in the clouds. Dr. Angelou impressed upon the audience that “poetry belongs to all of us at all times”. Individuals can expand their life and learn about other people through poetry, and it can also be constructive in one’s own life.

 Be One to Somebody Else

Finally, she concluded that when she was pregnant at sixteen she would have been reduced to a statistic if not for all the people who were kind to her. They were all like rainbows in the clouds to her, and because of this she has a deep appreciation for them.  She challenged everyone to aspire to be rainbows in the cloud. Tiffany Sarfo, a member of the audience, adequately summarized Dr. Maya Angelou’s thoughts when she said, “what I got from it is that we all have the ability to impact people and for others to impact us. The decision to help someone may not only benefit that individual, but can trickle down and affect others in a way you never could have imagined”.

In an individualistic society, where everyone looks out for themselves, it is nice to be reminded that helping someone can make a difference. As university students, we get distracted by midterms, exams, papers and other aspects of university life. It is no surprise that sometimes people forget to think about helping others, even in the university community. However, this presentation serves as a reminder of the value and importance of aiding our fellow individuals.

So to the reader out there, buy your friend a cup of coffee or ask them if they’re okay or how they did on a test. Give them advice and help them along the way, where you can. You can donate to a charity or participate in a charitable function. Rest assured, you will be appreciated and remembered as someone who is a rainbow in the clouds.

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One thought on “A Rainbow in the Clouds: Reflections on Dr. Maya Angelou’s Visit to Western

  1. Pingback: What is Life – Part 2 | I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

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