Media Advisory: Nov. 6: Maya Angelou, Ed Wilson & Johnnetta Cole celebrate Dignity & Respect at Wake Forest University

Award-winning author, renowned poet and Civil Rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou will deliver opening remarks at a celebration of dignity and respect at Wake Forest University on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place from 3:30 until 4:45 p.m. in Brendle Recital Hall, located in the Scales Fine Arts Center.

Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African Art, and Dr. Edwin G. Wilson, Provost Emeritus at Wake Forest, will join Angelou, Wake Forest’s Reynolds Professor of American Studies, to celebrate the first 30 days of a yearlong, campus-wide “Dignity and Respect Campaign.”

Seating will be on a first come, first served basis. No registration is necessary.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion launched the campaign on Oct. 7 to unite the campus under the core belief that everyone deserves dignity and respect. Originally established by the Center for Inclusion at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the national movement promotes inclusion through behavioral and organizational change.

“Dr. Angelou is famous for saying, ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

Indeed, the relationships students form with each other, faculty, and staff are at the heart of our culture here at Wake Forest,” said Dr. Barbee Oakes, Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion.

“With the diversification of our student body over the last several years, we have dedicated great attention to cultivating a greater appreciation of how diverse constituencies enrich our community. The primary goal of the ‘Dignity and Respect Campaign’ is to embed the message ‘You Belong Here’ into the very fabric of our campus,” she said.

Following Angelou’s remarks, Wilson and Cole will reflect upon what it means to show dignity and respect – a timely topic that resonates on college campuses as well as in the nation’s capital.

Before assuming her current position, Cole had a long and distinguished career as an educator and humanitarian. As the first African American female president of Spelman College, the former president of Bennett College for Women, a university professor and through her publications, speeches and community service, she has consistently addressed the important issues of creating racial and gender parity and redressing all other forms of inequality.

Wilson, a distinguished literary scholar and retired professor of English, graduated from Wake Forest in 1943 and joined the faculty in 1951. Fondly known as Mr. Wake Forest in campus and community circles, Wilson was Dean of the College when Wake Forest made the historic decision to admit its first black student, Ed Reynolds, in 1962.


About Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University combines the best traditions of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a large research university. Founded in 1834, the school is located in Winston-Salem, N.C. The University’s graduate school of arts and sciences, divinity school, and nationally ranked schools of law, medicine and business enrich our intellectual environment. Learn more about Wake Forest University at

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