Recently it was announced that the world lost one of its most beloved legends. Maya Angelou, civil rights activist, author, and actress, died in her bed at the age of 86. Her work will forever resonate in our hearts, minds, and souls, and her life will always serve as an inspiring lesson to us.
Her life story is one of perseverance and determination. In her memoir, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou describes the struggles of growing up during an era of racial turmoil in the south. She recounts the sexual abuse she experienced from her mother’s boyfriend and how she struggled with embracing her racial identity in the midst of a society that showed no acceptance for a young black girl.
Through each of her experiences and bodies of work, we are provided with a sense of healing, an unwavering faith, and a new found passion awakened from within. As a child, I collected Maya Angelou’s books, and with each profound piece that I read, I felt as if I found a part of me on my journey to self-discovery. As she has passed on, we reflect on the impact that her teachings had on our lives…
The true women’s anthem, Phenomenal Woman, helped to change society’s perception of beauty for the better. It’s a liberating declaration of self-acceptance and self confidence reminding all women that they are remarkably unique and beautiful.
While she published various works that promoted self-love, some of her works, encouraged perseverance and resilience. “You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies. You may trod me in the very dirt, but still like dust I rise”. Her poem, ‘Still I Rise’, sent a powerful message of determination. Maya Angelou embodied that determination through every obstacle in her life. As a single mother at the age of 17, Maya Angelou overcame poverty and garnered over 50 honorary degrees and numerous other awards, including the Presidential Medal of Arts.
Maya Angelou has served as an inspiration to many around the world. She has taught us that our past and present adversities should never deter us from moving forward, but rather they should serve as catalysts for change and success.
“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.”
What are some lessons in life you learned from Maya Angelou?