Friends and Neighbors

Columnist remembers Maya Angelou


Like many of you, throughout the world, I was sadden last Thursday, to learn of Maya Angelou’s death. And like many of you, I considered her a friend. She knew how to touch the heart of a person.

I met Maya in the mid 1970s when she came to Miami to be a speaker at an event in Miami Beach. I had recently read her best-seller I know Why the Caged Bird Sings and so wanted to meet her. She was still relatively unknown, and my editor at the time had not heard of her, and didn’t see why she should send me to interview her.

I remember saying to her, “Haven’t you heard of her book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings?” She hadn’t, but I convinced her that I should interview Angelou.

I remember exactly what I was wearing that day; how my hair was fixed, and how excited I was to be meeting with my newest favorite author.

I related to Angelou in many ways. In her book she mentioned that it was her younger brother who was the pretty one with the “good” hair in her family. It was the same in my family; my brother Adam, was the pretty one with the “good” hair in my family.

She started her book with a flashback to her childhood where she recited a poem that I’d learned as a four-year-old and remembered reciting it in church:

“Roses on my shoulders/Slippers on my feet/I’m my mama’s baby girl, don’t you think I’m sweet?”

I think a couple of the words were a little different in Angelou’s version but I felt the connection.

Over the passing years, I watched her career take off like a wildfire. But what impressed me the most was that she never lost the common touch. And whenever our paths crossed, she always addressed me as “My Sistah.”

I’m not sure that she actually remembered who I was. After all, she met so many adoring fans throughout her life. Still, she always made me feel like I was the “Sistah” she hadn’t seen in a while and was happy to see again.

Scholarships for medical students

A Warm Friends and Neighbors salute to the Rotary Club of Miami on being recognized for the scholarships given to hundreds of University of Miami medical school students over the past 30 years. Dean Pascal Goldschmidt of the university’s Miller School of Medicine, made the presentation at a recent reception hosted by Northern Trust Bank.

The downtown Miami Rotary Club was founded in 1917, and is the trustee of the Thomas Brown McClelland Trust, which has distributed more than $6 million in scholarships to more than 600 students over the past three decades.

Goldschmidt said, “Medical school is a costly endeavor for anyone. The Rotary Club of Miami and the TBM Trust have helped hundreds of young adults to pursue their dream of becoming a medical doctor.”

According to a press release, the scholarships provide financial support to any Miami-Dade County high school graduate who attends an American Medical Association-certified medical school. However, 40 percent of the recipients go to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, making TBM the largest private provider of scholarships to UM medical students, said Scott Richey, vice president of Northern Trust Bank and the president of the Rotary Club of Miami.

“These dollars really have a positive and wide-ranging impact on medical students who will go on to serve communities across the globe and improve the lives of countless individuals,” Richey said.

The Rotary Club, which meets every Thursday for lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe in Bayside Marketplace, interviews potential scholarship recipients in March and the announcement of the recipients are made in May.

For more information, call 305-443-5787 or visit

‘Grande Finale Concert’

The Greater Miami Symphonic Band will present its “Grande Finale Concert” of its 35th season at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Gusman Hall, University of Miami , 1314 Miller Dr. in Coral Gables.

The program will feature David W. Brubeck, bass trombone soloist performing the U.S. premiere of the Elizabeth Raum “Concerto for Bass Trombone”. Gary Green is the band’s musical director and its conductors are Robert Longfield and Tom Keck.

The Greater Miami Symphonic Band will perform some of the finest symphonic band compositions to include: “Fantasies on a Theme”; “Cloudburst”; “Festival concert march”; Allerseelen”; “Armenian Dances, Part 1”; and “Washington Post March.”

Tickets are $15 each for adults and $5 for students and children over 5 , and are available at the box office on the night of the concert. For advance tickets go online at or call 305-273-SOUSA.

Tryouts for July 4 show

Tryouts for individuals and group acts for the “Freedom for the Family” variety program and picnic, will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Historic Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 301 NW Ninth St. in Overtown. The performance will be on July 4 at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park.

“We are also interested in material and technical help from people who want to express themselves, especially on the themes of freedom and family,” said organizer Gail Willingham.

Tickets to the event will be sold in advance only, and are $10 per person, $15 per couple, $25 for a family of four and $5 per person for a group of 10 or more and includes a picnic meal and one souvenir for each individual.

The park is at 4020 Virginia Beach Drive, just off the Rickenbacker Causeway. Parking is $6 per vehicle.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Friends and Neighbors, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.

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