Famed author Maya Angelou made an appearance at Barnes and Noble in the La Cantera Shopping Center on Tuesday the 11th to conduct a signing of her newly-released cookbook, Great Food, All Day Long.

The event started at seven in the evening, with Dr. Angelou speaking a few words about being in Texas. Angelou, who has family and friends in the area, says of San Antonio in particular: “I like your spirit.”

Not always a place of intellectual merits, she explains, Texas instead possesses something more important, what she calls, “common sense.” In other words, it possesses a genuineness and a warmth that make her feel at home.

The new cookbook, like its predecessor Hallelujah The Welcome Table, is said to capture the same sort of feeling. Compounded with several decades’ worth of common sense in the kitchen, Great Food, All Day Long is apparently not for beginners. Dr. Angelou means business with her second cookbook.

Interestingly enough, the book intends to appeal to everyone. This is not uncommon in Angelou’s writing. Each recipe in her cookbook is complimented by an anecdote, usually on how the recipe came to be. Here, Angelou demonstrates some of that homespun wisdom, making each meal seem as personal and meaningful as her words.

It is this charm that, according to Veronica Parker, a spectator at the event  and resident of San Antonio, that makes her such a legendary writer. A follower of Dr. Angelou, Parker identifies what she values most about the author as being “her ability to speak to so many different types of people.”

The event itself proved what a universal appeal Dr. Angelou has. Over forty years have passed since the release of her classic I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, and yet, in the limited space of Barnes and Noble’s first floor, families waited patiently in line for over two hours to get her autograph on one of her many since-written works.

Approaching 83, Dr. Angelou has achieved a lifetime of accomplishments in many different fields. Besides being an author and a cook, she is also an actor, a director, an educator, and was a civil rights activist.

As an actor, she was nominated for an Emmy for her performance in the miniseries Roots. As a director, she made one of her screenplays into the 1998 film Down In The Delta. As an educator, she has spent the past several years teaching  at Wake Forest University, considering herself as a teacher who gets the opportunity to write. Before her literary success in the early 1970s, she was highly involved in the Civil Rights Movement, working personally with both Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., men who are known to this generation only by their immortalizations in textbooks and pop culture.

Angelou is already immortalized in the same way. After more than thirty honorary degrees and a Pulitzer Prize. Dr. Angelou will also be receiving the Medal of Freedom this year. The Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed upon those who have made significant progress promoting peace and cultural unity. Selected personally by President Obama, she will receive this very prestigious award along with several others, including George H.W. Bush, Warren Buffett and Yo-Yo Ma.

In a very emotional last few minutes of her book signing here in San Antonio, she described how moved she was by the crowd gathered in front of her at the La Cantera Shopping Center. Drawing once more upon that homespun wisdom, she told her followers she would do her best not to cry, explaining a little tip her mother passed on to her about crying. Try to avoid it, her mother warned her, because the more you cry, the less you pee and the latter is better for your health. As the audience laughed, she said she would not abide by her mother’s advice when accepting her upcoming award personally from the President.

Again speaking to many different walks of life, Dr. Angelou ended the event by informing the audience that she would be proudly accepting this award on behalf of all the different ethnic and religious groups that have come to this country in search of a common dream. As she said this, the room fell silent. Summing up the evening as well as a lifetime devoted to reaching people through her words, she added, “we are all more alike than we are different.”

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