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Northern Virginia Community College expert available to discuss Life of Maya Angelou and her impact on American society

America is just learning that Maya Angelou, beloved poet laureate, has died. Northern Virginia Community College faculty expert, Joseph E. Windham is available to comment on Angelou’s life and impact on American society.

Joseph E. Windham is Professor of History and African Diaspora Studies, Assistant Dean of Liberal Arts and Chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee at NOVA’s Alexandria Campus. He was born in the Bronx, NYC, the fourth child of African American migrants from the Jim Crow South. Windham teaches History at Northern Virginia Community College. He is an expert on African American History. His African American History course is essentially a survey of the Black Experience within the United States from 1865 to the present. Students observe and analyze social, political and economic contributions and challenges of African-Americans throughout modern times.

“I read Maya Angelou, heard her at least three or four times speak in person, and gratefully noticed her impact on so many people who make positive contributions to our communities, nation and world. She was brilliant, funny, insightful, courageous and loving. We should embrace her spirit just as she liberated herself from her traumatic childhood and challenging adulthood. I tear up with sadness in mourning, but I smile with gratitude for what she gave us!” Windham said. “Maya Angelou was and always will be, from her body of work and humanitarianism, an irreplaceable scholar, activist, artist, intellectual and mentor to Black people in particular and humanity in general! ‘The Caged Bird Sings’ and flies straight to heaven for her virtue!”

Maya Angelou is known for her 1969 memoir, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, which made literary history as the first nonfiction best-seller by an African-American woman. In 1971, Angelou published

Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Die, a poetry collection that won a Pulitzer Prize. She also wrote "On the Pulse of Morning,” a poem that she recited at President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993.

To arrange for an interview with Professor Windham, contact Kathy Thompson in NOVA’s Media Relations Office.

Media Contact: Kathy Thompson | 703.764.0896 | kthompson@nvcc.edu

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.