When the Celebrate! Maya Project got its start in 2014, it did so with the mission to spread the legacy of writer and activist Maya Angelou. Since its founding, the nonprofit organization has taken this pursuit to numerous Arkansas communities, with an emphasis on youth, to expose them to Angelou’s work and to provide educational opportunities for children.
Next month, the organization commemorates five years of achievements through its 5th Anniversary Celebration and is inviting the public to take part. The celebration gala takes place 6-9 p.m. Oct. 18 at the Clinton Presidential Center and will feature live music from Rodney Block, poetry from Kai Coggin, a live auction, and food and drink. Interpretive dancer Natoya England-Johnson will also perform, and painter Joëlle Storet will create live art for auction. Regine Moore, director of multicultural marketing at Walmart, will provide the keynote address. The celebration will also include the presentation of the 2019 Spirit of Maya Award, which honors those who epitomize Angelou’s commitment to bettering the world.
The Celebrate! Maya Project annually provides remembrance and literacy events that help Arkansans understand Angelou’s life and to help youth express themselves through poetry and prose. It partners with Arkansas schools—specifically districts in the Delta, as that is where Angelou spent a portion of her childhood—for these events and to award academic scholarships to youth writers. Proceeds from the celebration benefit these efforts.
“Five years isn’t a long time for an organization to exist, but it is time enough to make a lifetime of difference in a young person’s life,” said Janis Kearney, founder and president of the Celebrate! Maya Project.
Tickets for the 5th Anniversary Celebration are $100 and can be purchased here.