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In Memoriam: 'Maya Angelou' on display until June 12

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Thursday, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery placed on view a portrait of Maya Angelou (1928-2014) painted by artist Ross Rossin, and it is located on the 1st floor, north. Additionally, her portrait will be on display until June 12, 2014.

Maya Angelou is one of America’s most notable and inspiring politically engaged writer, poet and, activist. Angelou wrote a series of seven autobiographical novels, which serves as a permanent record of the struggle and achievement by African Americans; particularly, African American women.

Ms. Angelou was also a poet; at President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993, she read her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning.” In April, just a little over a month ago, Maya Angelou was present for the unveiling of her portrait to be installed in the portrait gallery alongside many other notable Americans as well.

Several friends attended, especially Oprah Winfrey, who claimed Miss Maya had been her mentor since Oprah was in her twenties, and also family members were present. Dr. Jonnetta Betsch Cole, director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, took the opportunity to interview Ms. Angelou.

Miss Maya spoke of her life long journey, and contributed some reflected wisdom, “Finding the patience and courage to look into one another’s face no matter what color, no matter what community to see one’s own self.”

Then Ms. Angelou spoke of the concerns of young people today in particular, she continued, “I know that when you have love, you have patience with people who make mistakes. So, it is important to love yourself first.”

Maya Angelou’s childhood was incomprehensibly difficult and lacking in every area of what a child truly needs, especially from extreme economic hardship. Yet, still worse was her sexual abuse, which she documented in her first book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), and in later volumes.

Her topic was her own life, and her autobiographies are not necessarily strictly factual or literally “true” but rather a retelling of her many emotional truths. It seems through very hard work for justice and seeking the truth of whom she would become.

Maya Angelou, late in life, was a teacher and stateswoman, respected by so many different individuals for her wise council and her endless remarkable achievements.

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