A Lasting Legacy: Honoring Dr. Maya Angelou

The late Dr. Maya Angelou, famed poet and Winston-Salem resident, would’ve turned 91 this April, and you can follow her legacy across the city during your next visit. From portraits and tributes to interior design, we’ve put together a list of inspiring places throughout Winston-Salem to celebrate Dr. Angelou’s lasting legacy. Plus, learn about the second annual Maya Angelou Garden Party hosted downtown in Bailey Park on Sunday, April 7!

Benton Convention Center

301 W 5th St, Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Artist: Dennis Wells

Title: Maya Angelou – In Her Own Words

Stop by the newly renovated downtown Benton Convention Center to see Dennis Wells’ “pen and ink” 10′ x 13′ portrait of Angelou, created using quotes from her work and aptly titled “In Her Own Words.” While you’re there, check out 12 other public art exhibits on display, all created by NC-based artists.

Historic Brookstown Inn

200 Brookstown Ave, Winston-Salem, NC, 27101

Artist: Leo Rucker

Title: Tribute to Maya

Find artist Leo Rucker’s “Tribute to Maya” hanging in the cozy parlor of the charming Historic Brookstown Inn, located in downtown Winston-Salem. The painting is on a custom-made canvas designed by wood craftsmen Larry Willis, which gives the acrylic artwork a 3D effect. 

Kimpton Cardinal Hotel

401 North Main Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101

In the heart of downtown Winston-Salem, the 174-room Kimpton Cardinal Hotel is housed in the historic 1929 R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Headquarters building, an architectural prototype for the Empire State Building. Inside, you’ll find more than 42 nods to local art and design in Winston-Salem, including a unique tribute to Angelou in the Magnolia Room. Featuring the poet’s words on the carpet in her own handwriting, and light fixtures inspired by her iconic pearl necklaces, the Magnolia Room is open for special events. Call ahead to request a peek at the inspired design.

Millennium Center

101 West Fifth Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101

Visit the Maya Bar in the privately-owned Millennium Center for a look at Angelou’s poetry, expertly painted on the lounge’s walls by local artists. The Millennium Center’s owner Greg Carlyle commissioned the art project in preparation for Angelou’s 85th birthday party, hosted by her dear friend, Oprah Winfrey in 2013. Now, the art is on display for all to enjoy! The building, originally constructed in 1906 as the City of Winston Post Office, later became U.S. Federal Building for the region after Winston and Salem merged in 1913, and functioned as a federal building until 1992.

Want full-access into the Millennium Center? Plan your visit around Winston-Salem’s RiverRun International Film Festival every April. The Opening Night Celebration is hosted there each year. Or mark your calendar the biggest New Year’s Eve bash in Winston-Salem, a hit every year.

Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Wake Forest University

1834 Wake Forest Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27106

Angelou spent 30 years as a professor at Wake Forest University, molding the minds of the future. Check out the Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University to discover a collection of her work, including movie scripts, drafts of plays, and more. Give the school three-days’ notice, and you can even request access to the manuscripts.

Did You Know? Wake Forest dedicated a new freshman-only residence hall to Angelou in 2017. It’s the first campus building named after an African-American and the second named after a female professor.


Image from inaugural Garden Party at Bailey Park. Photo Source: Innovation Quarter

Maya Angelou Garden Party

On Sunday, April 7, bring the whole family to Bailey Park downtown, in the heart of the vibrant Innovation Quarter district, for the second annual Maya Angelou Garden Party from 2 – 4 p.m. Organized by Wake Forest University students, this event is free to the public and features spoken word poetry, food trucks, lawn games, and more. Honoring Angelou’s love for garden parties, this event is the perfect way to celebrate what would have been her 91st birthday as well as Winston-Salem’s vibrant arts and cultural community.