A gracious, low-keyed, dignified giant of a woman has left this world, leaving behind a legacy of triumph and success. Maya Angelou wrote volumes about her life and translated her depth of experience into poetry that will continue to inspire women to live life on their own terms.
Her story begins with self-acceptance and an awareness of where each woman fits in the history of womanhood. Maya Angelou was not born into privilege and wealth. She wrote about how she raised her son, felt deep love for her brother and how she respected her mother. As a young single mother she had to find a way to support herself.The path she chose was to work at strip clubs, eventually singing and dancing on stages in different parts of the world. But her recognition and fame evolved through her poignant writing which included a presidential inaugural poem, sensitive poetry about a woman's struggles, and six memoirs about her life as a Black woman in the 20th century.
Her memoir, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," catapulted her to success as it found its way into the hands of millions of readers. Revealing her personal struggles to the world, with so much interest and acceptance, led to the success of many other well known Black women authors such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison. In her poetic book, Phenomenal Women, Maya Angelou reminds all women of their beauty, resilience, strength and personal value. At one point Maya Angelou was a mentor for Oprah Winfrey and they remained friends over the years.
I remember listening to her slow, deliberate, carefully selected words and phrases spoken with so much authority and grace. Her presence revealed a strength built upon a strong and enduring foundation of love - for herself, for other women and for the uplifting of humanity.
This was a woman for all women. With a powerful assurance, she could knock away your fears and disbelief. And with a lilting precision of musical words filled with unswerving truth and wisdom for all time, Maya Angelou was a genius at expressing the human spirit. Although her physical presence has passed on, her words and wisdom and love will continue in the hearts and minds and spirit of all those who have known her, listened to her speak or have read her poignant words about the human condition.
Some powerful quotes from this woman whose life was lived in passion, purpose and joy.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
- Interview of Maya Angelou for Beautifully Said Magazine (2012)
"Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope."
- Angelou's Facebook (Jan. 11, 2013)