Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Renaissance Poet, Actress, Singer and Civil Rights Activist Dr. Maya Angelou passes at 86

The lovers of the written word around the world are mourning the passing of the great poet and activist Dr. Maya Angelou on May 28, 2014. The celebrated Dr. Angelou was 86 and leaves behind a body of work filled with wisdom and insight.

Angelou rose to fame in 1969 with her debut book, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," and wrote seven autobiographies and many poems, including on the ‘Pulse of Morning’ which she read at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton and the most quoted of all 'And Still I Rise.' Angelou was a dancer, writer, actress, activist and a great human being who believed in people. She marched and protested with the likes of James Baldwin, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. You may ask what does the story has to do with Prairie View Today. Well, it has a lot to do with her presence in the city. It was in 1984 when she appeared at Prairie View A&M University for the Century II Reading Committee’s “Evening with Maya Angelou” chaired by Dr. Clarissa Booker (nee Thomas). Prior to her performance, she was overwhelmed with a special presentation of her works by the famed Charles Gilpin Players, directed by C. Lee Turner. Angelou was so touched that she included several Gilpins on stage that night with her performance.

By the way, she also donated $1,000 to the Gilpin Scholarship Fund. “I can’t pay you for that performance but I can at least make a donation,” she said with a chuckle. Dr. Angelou wrote of the emotions of the 'caged bird,' remained insistent in her optimism, invoked for Mandela, her signature metaphor of “rising.” That metaphor symbolizes her own life’s message for her as well as Mandela’s: “No sun outlasts its sunset, but it will rise again and bring the dawn.”

Following her dynamic presentation and after all the autographs and picture several students and members of the committee gathered in the President’s campus house where she was spending the night for conversation and sharing of Black history. It was after 10:00 p.m. and folks were getting hungry. Well would you know Dr. Angelou stated ‘You all get the food and I will cook,” and she did! At 11:45 p.m. we were all enjoying grits, sausage, eggs, ham and biscuits prepared by our campus guest. What I learned from my meeting Miss Angelou has stayed with me, i.e. start the program on time, say what you have to say and move on! To close out the night she recited one of her favorite quotes "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." I will say she made all of us feel great that night. Read more on Maya Angelou here ( for more information.

The Prairie View Chamber of Commerce will host its monthly meeting on Thursday, May 29 at 6:00 p.m. in the George E. Higgs Prairie View National Alumni Building on University Drive. All business owners and entrepreneurs are invited to attend. Mr. George E. Higgs is the president.

The City of Prairie View has a new radio station KTOR 87.9 FM launched from the OpenMic Broadcast Network. The station will feature news, weather and sports updates for the city and parts of the county. It will also simulcast some LIVE sports broadcast during the football and basketball season of 2014 on OBN-Radio on the internet.

The City of Prairie View held monthly meeting on May 27 in the chambers of City Hall and what a marathon of a meeting it was. Following the oath of office for Mayor Frank D. Jackson and council members Paulette Matthews Barnett Herbert Thomas, by Precinct 3 Judge Marian E. Jackson, the meeting convened. Mayor Jackson expressed congratulations to the new council and to outgoing Council Member Dr. Simeon Queen who served on the council for some years.

Queen thanked the citizens for the opportunity to serve and informed the council of next chapter for service in Port Arthur and also introduced his fiancée Jennifer K. Mitchell, whom he plans to marry on June 21 in Houston.

The citizens’ comment took more than hour as members of the Davis Family and other residents addressed the council on the inconsistencies in disapproving the recommendation from the Zoning Committee to convert property on Clark Street from R1 to R3. The members cited several faults in the system which allowed the changes to take place including the issuing of a permit for construction to a company indebted to the city. David Allen former mayoral candidate challenged the council for including the budget discussion to an executive session which violated the city’s ordinance and state rules on open meeting. James Larry also voiced concern of the city’s condemnation and acquisition of his property and failure of the mayor to include his request on the agenda. When it was all said and done, the council voted not to approve the renewal of the contract for the City Attorney Lee Van Richardson and also to cancel the executive session because no counsel would be present.

You invited to the social event of the year: the 8th Annual Red & White Ball on August 23, 2014. The event honors the Prairie View Volunteer Fire Fighting Association, Inc. and Farmers & Ranchers, Cowboys and Cowgirls in Waller County and surrounding areas. The ‘Red Hot Summer’s Night in August’ begins at 7:00 pm in the Willie A. Tempton, Sr. Memorial Student Ballroom at Prairie View A&M University and is open to the public. The committee is seeking sponsorship and donations for its silent auction. Tickets and souvenir ads for the ball are available through August 9, 2014. Proceeds will support equipment and operations. For information, contact: Belinda Lewis at

The Summer Session for the Gavel Series is set for June 7, 2014 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon in the auditorium of the Don Clarke Juvenile Justice Building at Prairie View A&M University. Some of the topics include Social Security and Disability Claims, Student Financial Aid Abuses and Collections and Drug Charges and Punishment. The Free community-based legal education is open to the public. The Gavel Series is sponsored byte Precinct 3 Judge Marian E. Jackson, Waller County District Attorney Elton Mathis and the PVAMU College of Juvenile Justice and Psychology. For information and registration, contact 936-261-5212.

Your prayers and encouragement are welcomed for Esel Bell, Ernestine Carreathers, William H. Chapman, Irene Davis, B. J. Freeman, Betty Hall, Timothy Hall, Mae Helen James, David Kirkpatrick, James Poindexter, Irene Reid, Willie Smith, Mary Ann Stubblefield, Theola Woods and Douglas Woolfolk. May God’s peace be with you!

HAPPY MAY BIRTHDAY TO: Mary Jean Manuel (29), Samuel E. Brown (30), Norman Hunter (30) and Iantha Watson Lang (31). HAPPY JUNE BIRTHDAY TO: Robert Kinney (1), Alfred Parks (1), Jimmie Lewis (3), Mary Smith Thibodeaux (3), Shatavia Turner (4), Karsyn Roberson (5), Shirley Mehn (8), Gloria Perez (10), Michelle Shatteria (10), Ivory Nelson (11), Allan Sweet (11), Helen Dunham (12), Alfred Parks (12), Clarence Talley (12), Donyelle Muse (13), Andre’ Pitre (13) and Monica Harden (18). HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to John and Sherylle Fuller (12), Nicole and Armando Gutierrez, Jr. (14) and Glen and Debra Berry (18).

THE VIEW FROM THE HILL: The Career Outreach and Service Center at Prairie View A&M University is gearing up for its summer program, the ExxonMobil/Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp, themed Forensic Science on June 15-27, 2014. Campers will come from Austin, Burleson, Brazos, Colorado, Fayette, Lee, Grimes, Montgomery, Waller, Washington and Wharton. Contact Career Services at 936-261-3570 for more information.

Until next week, in the words from the final tweet of remarkable renaissance poet/actress and activist Dr. Maya Angelou, "Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God." Keep the news, achievements and recognitions coming to P. O. Box 2906, Prairie View, Texas 77446 or

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