Today the human community mourns the death of Doctor Maya Angelou, poet extraordinaire, writer, novelist, actress, dancer. Her creative journey spanned more than six decades.
Doctor Angelou rose from pain, rejection and rape to chronicle her life in a story known as “I know why the Caged Bird sings.”
Doctor Angelou’s creative awakening began in her childhood during a period of traumatic silence. She had been raped by a family friend and she testified against the man in court. Before the man could be sentenced he was found dead. Maya Angelou feeling guilty over his death didn’t speak for five years. She later said that in that season of silence she became aware of the beauty of the written word. In her silence her creative genius was awakening in her.
Maya Angelou’s life is a testimony of how God can use pain to bring forth destiny. In the quiet of guilt and fear Maya found her voice and that voice would touch nations throughout her life.
In the decade of the 60’s Maya soared as a creative revolutionist in dance, acting and as a publisher of a newspaper. Maya was a soldier in the cause of freedom for the African American race and two of her colleagues in that struggle was Malcolm X and Doctor Martin Luther King. On her fortieth birthday, April 4, 1968 Doctor King was murdered in Memphis Tennessee.
The first time I saw Doctor Angelou was in 1977 on the first episode of ROOTS. She played the grandmother of Kunta Kinte. She lived that role. She was not acting but rather giving us a creative illustration of a woman who walked with strength and carried herself a regal dignity.
Years later I would to appreciate her gifts through her writings, her appearances on the Oprah Winfrey Show where she always spoke with such poise and wisdom and when I moved to southern Virginia in 1994 I would meet many persons who knew her. Although I never had the privilege of meeting Doctor Angelou living just a hundred miles from her hometown of Winston Salem North Carolina gave me a regional connection to this creative master.
We celebrate her life. Well done Doctor Maya Angelou.
Do you have a story or favorite memory to share of Doctor Angelou. Please share it. Though we will miss her physical presence she lives on through her creative gifts that will continue to touch generations that have not yet been born. Doctor Angelou’s works will fill the earth with beauty and love until the end of the ages.