Maya, we hear you…

Do you know you were one of the first black writers I read, after a literary diet about as nutritious as macaroni and cheese…

That was the start of my second (fizzled) attempt (much earlier today) to write something about the passing of Maya Angelou, a literary figure who towered over so much of our lives these many decades (Maya lived 1928 – 2014)…and hopefully will still. I was sipping coffee at my kitchen island when the BBC newscaster announced it and I felt something rock through me. She said it like she’d said it already several times that day but it was news to me and the way they immediately flipped into talking about her legacy unsettled me, that she was already part of a conversation in the past tense, even as my eyes burned, as I stood there still trying to make sense of what I’d just heard. People like Maya Angelou don’t die, do they??? But of course we all do, and the best we can hope for is that our lives meant something. In this regard, Maya Angelou can rest in peace, because her life meant so much to so many… women, black people, in fact all races, and writers, readers, activists, survivors, global citizens who embraced her message of a purpose filled life, a life fully embraced, a life fully lived.

If you’ve read her memoirs (hear/read some of her writing here and here) you know she’s done just that (read and view highlights from her life here and this interview on her writing process). She is the caged bird who found her voice and learned to sing, the phenomenal woman who reminded us that we are all phenomenal, and her voice still rises, her spirit remains here with us reminding us to live fully and speak heartily, our truth, let our voices be heard.

Just caught a bit of CNN’s Maya reflections in her own words. Two things stood out to me. Her emphasis on the need for courage; and her urging to the generations (now and to come) to claim the future we want to see.

We hear you, Maya, we hear you…

images maya-angelou maya-angelou-donation maya-angelou-miss-calypso_1342 poems singingmaya the heart of a woman


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