Maya Angelou died yesterday at the age of 86. She lived a long, productive life. She was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but was raised in Arkansas. Her childhood was not an easy one, as she suffered from various forms of abuse. She refused to speak for several years because of this abuse.
Angelou escaped from the world she know as a child, taking up singing and dancing and traveling across America and Europe for many years. The world that she had known took a backseat. She took on life with her arms open wide. She wrote many books, poems, and was a magnificent orator. Her works, and words, crossed many borders. Although she was an African-American woman, her works were loved by people of all ages, male and female, and of other races. Her words knew no borders. She was as human as one could get. Her words expressed true emotion. When she spoke, her eyes told of the pain that she had once experienced. When she smiled, though, it was from the heart--warm and friendly and true.
Maya Angelou did not see herself as above anyone else. She seemed as comfortable making numerous appearances on Sesame Street with the Muppets as she did speaking during Bill Clinton's Presidential Inauguration. She was genuine in everything that she did. Her human emotions were expressed in ways that most everyone could relate. Her poetry and other writings told stories of hardship, pain, and the ultimate goal of positive change. Civil rights were high one her list of accomplishments. She was not afraid to speak her mind, and to share her thoughts with society. She spoke out for those who had no voice. She cared about others. She was a kind woman.
Romans 12: 2 says, "Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of the mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect," (The New American Bible, 1991, Wichita, KS: Devore & Sons, Inc.). Ms. Angelou found her purpose and lived it well.
The world has lost a sparkling gem in Maya Angelou. Because of her writing, her words and other works will remain with us for years to come.