Conversation between Maya Angelou and NMAfA Director Johnnetta B. Cole at the unveiling of Dr. Angelou’s portrait at the National Portrait Gallery.
Maya Angelou / Ross R. Rossin / Oil on canvas, 2013 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Andrew J. Young Foundation
In collaboration with Smithsonian colleagues from the National Museum of African Art, the National Portrait Gallery hosted an event on Saturday, April 5, in which both museums paid tribute to Maya Angelou, one of the most revered poets in the United States. Angelou, whose eighty-sixth birthday was April 4—the day before—commented on what she considered was one of her great achievements over eight decades—patience. “You can only have patience if you have courage,” she stated, adding that “Reverend [Martin Luther] King had great patience.”
During the event at the McEvoy Auditorium in the Donald W. Reynolds Center, a portrait of Angelou by Atlanta-based artist Ross Rossin was unveiled. Assisting Portrait Gallery director Kim Sajet and NMAfA director Johnnetta Cole in the unveiling was Angelou’s friend and protégé Oprah Winfrey. Guests in attendance included actress Cicely Tyson, activist Julian Bond, and former ambassador Andrew Young.