Dr. Maya Angelou served as the first national chairperson for the first National Black Theatre Festival. Photo by Steven Dunwell (Courtesy of Larry Leon Hamlin). Dr. Angelou wrote the following  manifesto for her support of the Festival:

“…Now on August 14, 1989, Black dramatists, actors, set, costume, and light designers from around the country are coming to Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  They intend to celebrate at once their formidable talent, and simultaneously the survival of that talent despite hard times, mean times, in between times.  This dramatic theatrical heritage was in place long before Ira Aldridge performed Shakespearean roles in Britain during the 1800s…The Festival, as the daring dream of Larry Leon Hamlin and the North Carolina Black Repertory Company, is equal only to the effort, the energy, and creative talents of the nationally known dramatists and the as yet little known performers from Black regional theatres who are in attendance.  This is a time of great joy.  A time when we can show each other the new projects we are daring to dream, and a time to dream even greater dreams.” (Nanton 28)