A photograph of Maya Angelou was taken in 1965 when she was singing in a Waikiki nightclub. She had done that often. Historian Deloris Guttman found the picture while researching the history of black Americans who made an impact on Hawaii.
"I see her coming alive again even though she was sad because of Malcolm X. But here, she's in her element," she said pointing to the photo.
Angelou was distraught over the death of her friend and fellow civil rights activist Malcolm X. In 1965 her brother brought her to the islands to recharge.
"That spirit, the Aloha spirit is what helped to heal her," Guttman said.
Nearly 30 years later, an older and more accomplished Angelou visited Hawaii. She was a published author, actress, professor and Grammy award winner.
"The evening that she spoke it was at the Andrews Amphitheater it was an overflowing crowd. And I was honored to introduce her," Kathryn Takara said.
The retired University of Hawaii ethnics professor helped bring Angelou to the UH. Angelou was a featured speaker during a summer session program focused on black culture. Takara introduced Angelou by reading a poem that she wrote for her.
"The scope of her poetry. The different themes that she embraced. Her writing. Her autobiographies. She was such a powerful presence. She had a very powerful presence," Takara said.
Takara met Angelou twice. She took her sightseeing and got a rare behind-the-scenes look at the woman known around the world.
"I am rich for having spent time with her. I am humbled by having spent time with her," Takara said.
The University of Hawaii honored Angelou with a Board of Regents Medal of Distinction. During her lifetime, Angelou visited Hawaii on several occasions. She made an impression everywhere she went.
"We look at the world through her eyes because she got out there with both feet," Guttman said. "She was doing things. She wasn't a talker she was a doer."