A Tribute to Dr. Maya Angelou (1928-2014)
I am not usually a fan of non-fiction in general. Autobiographies can be interesting, but there are very few people I am all that interested in their real life. Usually, I find fiction to be more interesting. Not to say that I never read non-fiction, but it is rare. Maya Angelou’s life is one of the most interesting that I have ever heard about. The things that she accomplished in her lifetime would take far too long to list here. The people that she met and worked with changed the course of history in our nation and large parts of the world.
Dr. Maya Angelou was an author, poet, musician, actress, historian, filmmaker, educator, civil rights activist and many other things. Her accomplishments are impressive in any circumstances, but given her particularly difficult childhood and early adulthood it is beyond outstanding what she achieved in her lifetime.
"One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential.
Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency.
We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."
I was in high school when I first read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first book in Dr. Angelou’s astounding 7 book autobiographical series. To say that this book changed my life would be an understatement. Angelou grew up impoverished and the victim of racial discrimination. This book showed such an incredible mix of the very worst things human beings can do to each other, and the huge heights to which we are capable of reaching, despite terrible circumstances.
“You may not control all the events that happen to you,
but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”
For me, seeing that someone who had gone through so many worse things than I had, and done so many worse things than I had, had come out the other side of those experiences stronger and proud was a beautiful thing.
"We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated."
Maya Angelou’s contributions to the world have been epic. She chose to live a life of joy, instead of wallowing in the tragedy of her past. She took every bad thing that had ever happened to her and used it to fuel her passion for life and her fight to make every person equal regardless of anything that might make them “different” or “less” in others eyes.
"My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive;
and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."
She did all of these things and more, touching millions of lives throughout the world with her words.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Dr. Maya Angelou died peacefully in her sleep May 28, 2014. It is my hope that she will continue influencing the world with her written legacy.
All of her books, poetry and other works can be found at mayaangelou.com as well as many other retailers.