A phenomenal woman.
Marguerite Ann Johnson walked in many shoes. It was the last half of her life that we all revel in, respect and came to fondly know her for. Her claim to fame, though she would likely tell you different, reminds you of inaugural speeches, countless appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and of course her famed national bestsellers I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings & And I Still Rise. Marguerite Ann Johnson, better known as Maya Angelou walked in many shoes before then. With more than 80 appearances every year, country and worldwide- she made sure you had the chance to hear her voice if you so chose to.
There is plenty to read about on her long life. Her being molested and raped by her mother’s boyfriend after her parents divorced, her becoming a mute for 5 years as a result where she gained a love for reading classical literature, her working as the first Black streetcar conductor in San Francisco before she graduated high school, her brief marriage to a Greek sailor after the birth of her son- the list goes on. Even reading very brief summaries of her life you’d understand she had plenty of experiences to gain her wisdom from.
This is why we aren’t likely to see another like her in our lifetime.
She had friends by the name of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and James Baldwin and others. These were great men who held the influence over many during the most volatile times for African Americans. Through their experiences she was further encouraged and inspired to let others know the strength and hunger they had from being denied basic rights for so long. There was no such thing as separate but equal. She was able to articulate this in a way that no other poet could. She often touched on ugly topics but they were the truth- things we as a country and supposed ‘now unified’ nation needed to hear.
Come to think of it, she was kind of like the great-aunt who reminds of the truth regarding our history, our responsibility and our souls.
I have yet to see another rise from similar circumstances, with similar great leaders and be able to share with the younger generations the way that Maya Angelou has for the last few decades. It must’ve been an honor to sit in a lecture hall at Wake Forest University and listen to her teach sensitive topics in way that only she can. I have to admit there was something in the way Angelou spoke that grabbed your attention. She seemed totally approachable though- someone to talk over coffee with while you soak up the knowledge.
While no one can argue that her life was cut short, 86 years is a true blessing- there’s still a gaping hole left in the writing world. Thankfully, Maya Angelou left us with plenty of material to reflect on. Personally I’m sure I’ll make room to reread Caged Bird and be grateful this wise woman existed and gave us all a chance to see things from her unique point of view.
You can easily take a look at her works and purchase them at Amazon.com, I’ve provided the link here: