A truly inspirational figure in American history is no doubt, Maya Angelou. A woman of remarkable talent, her life and legacy continue to influence many today. If you’re familiar with Maya’s work, she often told riveting stories about herself and painted vivid pictures of African-American life and culture.
Miss Angelou lived a rich life. Yes, she had to endure many painful experiences, but she took these experiences to strengthen herself and upbuild others. Her work has touched the lives of millions of readers as her style is often relatable to the reader or someone the reader knows. I had the privilege of being introduced to Miss Angelou’s work while I was still in school, and from a very young age, she provided much inspiration for some of my own written work. Her style and passion for writing have been a huge motivation for me to achieve my personal literary goals. As I got older, my appreciation for her writing grew, as I familiarized myself with her work as a humanitarian, feminist, activist, and cultural leader.
Listening to Dr. Angelou speak is comparable to a hot cup of tea on a cold day. Her aura and ability to command an audience through spoken word and powerful visuals stemmed from her life experiences and an unsurpassable amount of talent. I’ve learned so much from studying her life, as she was someone who valued knowledge and the gift of sharing it. She often placed a significant amount of emphasis on the value of education, something I also share a passion for. Her drive to educate herself not only academically but culturally as well is something that I strive to emulate in my own life. Dr. Angelou was well traveled and had conversations with some of the greatest and most influential minds of our time. She surrounded herself with positive and intellectual people, acknowledging the fact that we can learn just as much as we can teach.
Maya Angelou didn’t just learn from other intellectuals, she also immersed herself in various cultures, living in countries like Egypt and Ghana. She was proud of her African roots and made it a priority to learn about her heritage and developed pride in the rich history of her ancestors. Through her work, she has shared major keys for self-pride and confidence. One of my favorite poems by Maya Angelou, the very poem that’s behind the name of this blog, Phenomenal Woman, is an incredible piece which I have adopted as my personal mantra. I can only hope that one day I will have an ounce of the grace and confidence that Dr. Angelou exuded, skills gained through valuable life experience and lessons.
Maya Angelou could easily be considered an avid warrior of the #metoo movement, as she had endured traumatizing sexual abuse as a child. She evolved from victim to vigilante as she used her pain and platform to give a voice to the voiceless. Through her work and activism, Miss Angelou has touched the lives of many, and though she is no longer with us, her influence continues to remain present. Because of her empathetic demeanor, she has become a mother, sister, or aunt to many of us. She has inspired, empowered, and moved many including numerous celebrities and notable figures like Oprah Winfrey.
The life and legacy of Maya Angelou continue to be a source of encouragement, inspiration, and empowerment for me as I strive to imitate many of the qualities that made her so compelling like her strength, grace, and intelligence.