Maya Angelou– a pedagogical poetess whose words healed many hearts and lifted many chins– is most remarkable for the moral her life tells. Maya Angelou is a testament to the fact that it’s not how you start but how you finish.
Angelou had many titles in her life, but when most had “settled down” she was just getting started– illustrating that the darker the sky the brighter the star shines. Maya Angelou was meant to be a figure of influence, she was meant to shine, and she did. But perhaps what is most remarkable about Miss Angelou is that she used her world to help her audience of black readers shine as well.
As a writer, Miss Angelou has contributed countless words of value, but this post will focus on three of Angelou’s most powerful verbal contributions essential to molding the black psyche in general, but perhaps most specifically—the black woman.
1. People tell you who they are—listen.
“When someone shows you who you are, believe them the first time.”
2. Confidence is beauty.
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I’m not cute or build to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
It’s in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
3. Self-Actualization is the kryptonite to a world trying to beat the black body into a pedestal on which their false superiority stands.
Do you want to see me broken ?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Does my hautifiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard
4. The black collective has the innate ability to “rise” above all the smallness that attempts to consume us.
Out of the huts of history’s shame
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide.
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and feat
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
Bringing the gifts that my ancestor’s gave,
I am the dream and the hope of a slave
In her transition, Miss Angelou has risen to her rightful place in the sky, her immortal contribution planting a seed of self-esteem the black body must wear as armor in a white supremacist world.
On what would have been your 90th birthday, I thank you Maya Angelou for planting a seed of confidence in the intellectual garden of our collective.
Black Power ❤