Truman Throwback: 1989 Kohlenberg Lyceum Series brings writer, politicians to campus

In this first installment of Truman Throwback, we are taking it all the way back to 1989 to remember two events that impacted Truman State University’s campus — a visit from renowned author Maya Angelou and the 1988 U.S. presidential election. 

The first of these was Maya Angelou’s historic visit to Truman’s campus. 30 years ago, Angelou came to speak for the first Kohlenberg Lyceum Series event of the 1988-89 academic year. The event was chronicled in the 1989 publication of Truman’s former yearbook, the Echo. The article said personal reasons caused Angelou to arrive one week later than scheduled, but she still captivated the audience with stories from her life and a lecture on the importance of education. She ended the night by attending a reception held in her honor in Ryle Hall where she met students and autographed copies of her books. 

Angelou gained international recognition for her 1969 autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” and was an acclaimed poet, professor, activist, playwright, singer and author of six more autobiographies. 

While Angelou’s presentation in 1989 was certainly a notable event for Truman’s campus, the University has a long tradition of hosting a range of speakers and entertainers. This fall, the Kohlenberg Lyceum Series opened with “The Rocket Man Show” performed by the official Elton John body double, Rus Anderson.

That same academic year, in the fall of 1988, registered voters cast their ballot to decide the 41st president of the United States. For many Truman students, that was their first opportunity to participate in the voting process. It brought a lot of excitement to campus, and in response, Truman brought in two political speakers for the 1989 Kohlenberg Lyceum Series which was also recorded in that year’s edition of the Echo. Sen. George McGovern spoke on behalf of the liberal perspective while William F. Buckley Jr. advocated for the conservative view. Though the men had differing perspectives, they both agreed that it was important for young voters to be active in our nation’s politics. 

Students on campus today are facing a similar situation with the 2020 presidential election rapidly approaching. Like the students at Truman 30 years ago, this will be the first time many are of voting age. It’s important to get involved not only because it’s one of the most active ways to be a good citizen, but because politics shape the world that we have just entered as young adults. Issues like tuition, student loans, job availability, health care and LGBTQ+ rights are just a few commonly debated political topics that directly impact college students. 

Truman offers many different ways of getting information on current political events and the candidates who are running. There is a radio show on 88.7 KTRM at 11 a.m. every Saturday called “Across the Aisle” hosted by Reece Ellis, Carolyn Klamm, Josh Glor, and Isaac Hampton. The show provides leftist, liberal and conservative perspectives on current political events. There are also several clubs that represent these various political views, such as College Democrats, College Republicans, Students for a Democratic Society and Young Americans for Liberty. Whether you join a club, tune-in to Truman’s local radio station or read the news to keep up to date with what’s going on in politics, students today have plenty of ways to get involved.