Joe Wyatt
Published February 8, 2021

Melodie Graves was by her own admission one extremely timid college student – at first.

Melodie GravesIN  

“I wouldn’t talk to anybody,” the associate director of advising at Amarillo College admits. “As a freshman I was terribly shy.”


You wouldn’t suspect such a thing today, though, because Graves rather swiftly transitioned from a state of speechlessness to riveting orator – one chosen to deliver at TED Talk on Saturday, Feb. 13 at Texas State University.


Graves will be the first of seven speakers featured at the university’s fifth annual TEDx event, which this year will be presented virtually from the Performing Arts Center on the university’s main campus in San Marcos. The program begins at approximately 10 a.m.


Tickets to view the live-streamed event start at $10. This year’s theme will be AMPLIFY, described as an effort to “cut through the noise” that has drowned out voices, many underrepresented, during the past year.


“We invite you to join us for a day of inspiration and conversation as we AMPLIFY ideas that can help us navigate our new reality. Help us cut through the noise,” a statement on the TEDxTexasStateUniversity website reads.


Graves escaped the yoke of bashfulness with impressive speed. At her graduation from West Texas A&M University the once-shy freshman served as commencement speaker, and she has since grown accustomed to center stage.


She currently serves as second vice president of Amarillo’s Branch of NAACP, and her impassioned speech last summer at the NAACP’s community rally to address racial inequalities captivated hundreds.


Her TEDx presentation will be “The Power of the Amplified Voice” and will focus not only on the journey through which she discovered her own political voice, but on injustices faced daily by the oft-forgotten underrepresented for whom she constantly advocates.


“This is an amazing honor that represents the pinnacle of my speaking career,” Graves said. “I will use this opportunity to try to educate, encourage and hopefully inspire a call to action in response to the injustices that persist in our communities and throughout our country.”


Graves, who also serves as president of the North Heights Advisory Association and actively advocates for community-building and eradicating poverty, will speak locally upon her return from San Marcos.


The West Texas A&M Black Women’s Association, which Graves helped establish while attending the university, has invited her to speak in conjunction with its celebration of Black History Month. Graves will present “Be the Change” at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17 at the Legends Club in WTAMU’s Jack B. Kelley Student Center.