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Posts Tagged ‘Norman Lear’

“I’m writing again, I’m living again,

I’m [inhale] breathing again.”

Mayda del Valle left her audience in awe after she performed “The Gift” on Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry. As a spoken word performer, I too was left amazed. The feeling of getting on the stage and pouring out every feeling is always amazing — even better is having the audience connect with and feel what you’re talking about. It is something every artist looks forward to. Del Valle did just that — she used her words to captivate the audience, tell her story, and leave her mark. I must admit that I reached for my pen and started writing after I saw her performance.

Midway through her act, I came to realize how the beauty of words can inspire people, and del Valle has a way with her words. She grew up on the South Side of Chicago and began performing her work during her high school years. It wasn’t until she relocated to New York City in 2000 that she began performing competitively. A regular at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, del Valle won four out of her first five slams. The rest is history! In 2009, she even performed at the White House for President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, and she continues to perform today.

The most inspiring part of del Valle’s story is that she has taken her passions for writing and performing and used them to encourage her community. She went on a spoken word tour with Norman Lear’s Declare Yourself, which encourages young people to register to vote. Thanks to her experiences as a woman growing up in a diverse neighborhood under the influence of hip-hop music, del Valle is able to relate to women from different backgrounds.

I am truly excited that del Valle will be a keynote speaker at this year’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. I am looking forward to her performance and anticipating the ways in which she will use her words to inspire everyone in the room. She is sure to leave the audience transformed and ready to lead.

Have you ever used your words to lead?

This post was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Nzinga Shury.

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