The one thing Dr. Maya Angelou hopes students will take away from her upcoming talk at Texas Woman's University is courage.
"All of us need to develop courage so we'll be able to be kind and generous and forgiving," Angelou said in a telephone interview Thursday.
The 83-year-old poet, civil rights activist and author said she doesn't know exactly what she'll talk about until the day of an event - her talk at TWU is set for Feb. 22 - but generally speaking, she plans to speak on the necessity for women in part, and people in general, to have courage.
"I'm not coming to preach, but that will be the burden of my song," said Angelou, author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Angelou loves to teach and loves to talk to college students, she said. That's why she has been giving the convocation at Duke University for more than 20 years.
Angelou said she looks at them, smiles and thinks, "Oh you dears, you are finally at a place where you can lay down the burden of ignorance."
She likes the idea of speaking to young men and women who are planning their lives, she said, because it gives her the ability to teach and inform them.
Angelou already has the attention of TWU students, faculty and staff.
Tickets for the event are sold out and TWU has had to set up an overflow room, where the event will be broadcast. The vast majority of tickets went to students, said Richard Nicholas, vice president for student life at TWU.
Angelou will speak at 11 a.m. Feb. 22 in the Margo Jones Performance Hall, which seats 1,000 people. And 500 or more will watch the event from the overflow room, Nicholas said.
"If it keeps going, we may end up with two rooms of video," he said.
TWU considered switching to a larger venue, Nicholas said, but the only other option was Pioneer Hall, where classes are held.
"We did explore that option and just weren't able to make it work properly," he said.
TWU's Campus Activities Board, a branch of the Student Government Association, issued the invitation to speak to Angelou.
"Obviously from the demand of it, they chose wisely," Nicholas said.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .