D.C.

Maya Angelou honored at National Theater

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Jazz, rap and hip hop singers joined other musicians to honor Doctor Maya Angelou at The National Theater.

Doctor Maya Angelou was honored Thursday evening at the National Theater. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

The event was part of a fundraiser for the famed poet's D.C. charter schools.

The featured performance of the night was Grammy award winning artist Common. But, it was not only the award winners that stole the night—many students who attend Maya Angelou schools also wowed the crowd.

Supporters of the "See Forever Foundation" and Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools were treated to a night of entertainment.

“I'm blessed that the men and women who put their effort their energies, their incredible intelligence into keeping these schools alive are doing it in my name. I’m blessed and I’m grateful,” Angelou said.

Performers included Grammy award-winning rapper Common, jazz vocalist Patti Austin, harp master Jeff Majors, R and B singer Lil' Mo and the soul duo "Kindred."

“It's really a no brainer. If Dr. Maya Angelou says come, you come,” said Aja Graydon, soul singer for “Kindred.”

The event was a fundraiser for Doctor Angelou's schools in D.C., which give hundreds of at risk teens a second chance to be successful.

“This really is a transformative school and it gives young people opportunities that they never even wanted to dream for themselves,” said executive director Lucretia Murphy.

Some students even joined the artists on stage or performed their own original work.

Anwan Glover, the star of HBO’s “The Wire,” grew up in D.C.’s Columbia Heights neighborhood. He says these schools are saving lives.

“Cause they always get a second chance to fulfill their dreams and move on, because a lot of people just like put them to the side, lock them up and not give them a chance—that’s what this is all about,” Glover said.

All of these artists profess deep respect for Doctor Angelou's poetry and activism, but they also love the woman herself.

“It's really exciting to be in her presence and grasp any of the wisdom or knowledge she might possess or can share with us,” said Fatin Dantzler of “Kindred.”

In turn, Angelou says she sees younger generations like her grandchildren, and she hopes the wisdom she shares with them will be passed along.

“Well this is true, for as soon as you get a blessing give it away. Absolutely. When you learn, teach. When you get, give,” Angelou said.

Officials with Maya Angelou Public Charter Schools say every child has potential to succeed. They say 73 percent of their graduates go on to college and 88 percent of them finish their first year.

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